Dont I like Dehradun... Mamata asks House

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 11 2009, 03:06am hrs
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said she had no intention of selling railway property under the PPP model, that her focus remained on the core areas of the railways and that she was not running a parallel government while heading the biggest ministry.

Replying to the discussion on the Rail Budget in both Houses of Parliament, Banerjee exuded confidence and poise as she took on criticism that she had been excessively biased towards West Bengal while giving shape to the Budget.

She also tried to wriggle out of the controversy over her promise to come out with a White Paper on the railways performance in the last five years, which the opposition has seized to embarrass her and attack Lalu Yadav. She said that white papers were brought out by her predecessors as well and it was meant only to arrive at the factual position.

Dont I like Dehradun, or Nainital in Uttarakhand, Ranchi, Bundelkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat...., she said, responding to criticism that she was only focussed on Bengal.

Elaborating on her PPP model, she said she would be leasing out the railway land to private players to be developed into facilities that would eventually benefit the passengers. I will not corporatise it. I am the last person to do so she said vehemently.

She also said that opening medical colleges and hospitals on railway land did not amount to running a parallel government. These facilities have existed even before I took over. They are for the 16 lakh railway employees and their families. So what if I have announced a medical college she countered.