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Parties slam railway budget

- State BJP members find little to show off before polls

Ranchi, July 8: The Narendra Modi government’s maiden railway budget has left both Opposition parties and the state BJP leaders fuming.

While the Congress, JMM and Ajsu Party slammed the central government for ignoring the interests of people in Jharkhand, local BJP leaders rued that they got very little from the budget to showcase during the coming Assembly elections.

Lashing out at railway minister D.V. Sadanand Gowda, state Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat said the BJP won 12 out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats from Jharkhand, yet the Centre chose to over look the state in the budget. The Prime Minister and the railway minister even ignored request of the BJP MPs for special attention to Jharkhand.

“During poll campaigns, Modi bragged about a special bonding with Jharkhand and the people gave him so many seats. But when the time came to return the favour, he turned a blind eye to their concerns,” he said.

The state Congress chief further said the railway budget spoke about bullet trains and high speed trains, but fell short on ensuring basic amenities.

RJD legislative party leader Annapurna Devi said the rail budget would benefit the business class, while the poor people were left in the lurch. “After listening to the railway minister’s budget speech, I felt that Modi government’s rail route begins in Gujarat and ends in Bangalore, after touring different parts of Maharashtra,” she added.

The JMM echoed the opinions of its allies. Taking a dig at the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said the rail budget exposed the hollowness of the Modi government’s vision of integrated growth.

“The people in Jharkhand helped the BJP win 12 Lok Sabha seats but now they are feeling cheated. They will teach them a appropriate lesson very soon,” he added.

Ajsu spokesman Deo Sharan Bhagat also expressed shock. “The Centre increased the fare prices before the budget. So the people were expecting something positive from the budget but got nothing,” he added.

Though senior BJP leaders did not come on record to vent their disgust against the budget, insiders claimed a large section of party workers were upset. “We may have to face tough time during the coming Vidhan Sabha elections. The people are already unhappy with the recent hikes in rail fares and fuel prices, and the today’s budget has made our job even more difficult,” lamented a BJP member.

Sources said former chief minister Arjun Munda had been lobbing for new trains, apart from increase in frequency of some existing ones, in Jharkhand, which accounts for a large portion of railway freight earnings. But his recommendations were also ignored.

Though Munda could not be contacted for comments, his political adviser Ayodhyanath Mishra argued that the budget had focused on infrastructure growth and smooth completion of long pending projects in Jharkhand. “Once the rail network improves in Jharkhand, new trains will also be introduced,” he added.