Intervening in a debate on the Demands for Grants for the Railway Ministry, Union Minister of State for Railways Suresh Channabasappa Angadi told the Lok Sabha on Thursday that the Railways has spent double the amount in capital expenditure under NDA rule as compared to the UPA.
After the NDA came to power, the practice of bringing in a separate rail Budget was done away with and the functioning of the organisation was made “apolitical”, Angadi said. This practice, Angadi said, was used for making political gains by showing that there was no increase in rail fares. The focus of the Narendra Modi government, on the other hand, was on the development of Railways, the minister said.
The discussion continued well into midnight because nearly every member wanted to participate. While winding up his speech, Angadi announced that the reply to the debate will be given by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday.
Lauding PM Narendra Modi’s Swachch Bharat campaign, Angadi said India could generate a lot of jobs by promoting tourism, for which cleanliness in the Railways was vital.
Earlier, initiating the discussion, Congress floor leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the Railways Minister intends to “sell” the ministry’s assets. Chowdhury said the Budget talked of spending Rs 50 lakh crore on Railways in the coming years but asked what happened to Suresh Prabhu’s claim of spending Rs 8.5 lakh crore. “Now you have added Rs 50 lakh crore more? It is clear you intend to sell its assets,” Chowdhury said. “It has become a government of MoUs,” he said.
A bullet train, according to Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay, was not possible in India. “It is a hoax”, he said, arguing that bullet trains had a separate structure and that Indian trains could at best be called fast trains.
DMK’s Kanimozhi said the Railways still employed manual scavengers. “It is a shame for the nation,” she said, claiming the government tried to hide this by appointing them through contractors.
NCP’s Supriya Sule sought an assurance from the government that it would not privatise the Railways.