Ranchi, Feb. 24: The state has taken the railway budget with a pinch of salt.
Most political parties have described it as Mamata Banerjee’s desperate bid to woo Bengal voters — ahead of the 2011 Assembly elections — at Jharkhand’s cost.
JVM(P) principal general secretary Pradip Yadav claimed that the Congress was punishing the poor of the state because they did not vote for it in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. “It was Bengal’s poll budget. As always, Jharkhand was neglected,” he added.
Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and senior Congress leader Rajendra Singh conceded that a few more trains should have been introduced, at least in the CIC section of Dhanbad rail division, which links coalfields and industrial centres.
He, however, expressed satisfaction with decisions like introduction of new projects, improvement of passenger amenities, rationalisation of railway recruitment exams etc. “Jharkhand badly needs new rail routes. If we have tracks, we can urge the Centre to introduce trains,” he argued.
Former deputy chief minister and senior JMM leader Sudhir Mahto said that at least one of the proposed rail wagons or coach factories should have been set up in Jharkhand to tackle unemployment and check migration of labourers. “But the railway minister has only tried to promote regionalism in her budget,” he said.
Former chief minister and senior BJP leader Arjun Munda said the budget was not realistic and could not fulfil aspirations of the common man. “It will only widen the regional divide. Jharkhand is one of the highest revenue earners for the railways, but the poor state has been given a raw deal again. This makes the credibility of the Manmohan Singh-led government rather questionable,” he added.
Interestingly, Mamata Banerjee had vehemently opposed setting up of a East Central railway zone in Hajipur, about seven years ago. She had also demanded that a new rail zone be set up in Dhanbad instead of Hajipur. She even held public meetings in Dhanbad and promised to fight tooth and nail to safeguard Jharkhand’s interests.
“She is actually a puppet in the hands of the Congress. Her aim is to grab power in Bengal by hook or by crook. She is misusing her official position for political gains,” said state unit BJP vice-president Dineshanand Goswami.