NEW DELHI: The Opposition on Thursday attacked the first full-fledged Railway Budget presented by the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government, saying its essence has melted away in the aspiration of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
Leading the charge against the Centre, senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily termed it a vision document of 2013, when the Congress-led UPA was in power.
“This is the height of irresponsibility. There is no Budget, it is only a vision document of 2013. Even the statement of accounts he said, it is in the annexure. That should be the core theme of the Budget. Then, where is the Budget?... I think the Budget has melted away in the aspiration of the minister,” he said.
Despite Prime Minister Modi’s strong defence, who said it was a forward looking, futuristic and passenger centric Budget, the Opposition members, including former railway ministers, slammed the Budget for lacking vision.
Modi, however, said this was a watershed moment for the Railways, marking a paradigm shift from discussing coaches and trains to comprehensive railway reform.
But, Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, who earlier served as the Railway Minister during the UPA-II regime, raised doubts over the promises made in the Railway Minister’s speech.
“It’s a nicely-worded Budget speech. But there is no vision as to how he is going to achieve the goals. The minister says he will get into PPP model, BoT agreements, etc. If you depend on others, you are unlikely to meet your targets,” he said.
Disappointed with the lack of vision and ways to reach the targets in the Budget, another former Railway Minister and TMC MP Dinesh Trivedi said, “It’s like saying I will go to moon. It’s an idea, a dream but what is important is how you are going to reach there. It’s all about future but your finances presently suffer from almost 50 per cent shortfall. How are you going to meet the gap? I see the Railways going the Air India way. Its coffers are empty,” Trivedi added.
In fact, the NDA allies too expressed disappointment over the rail Budget, with the Shiv Sena saying the Budget has kept everyone in the dark. Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar said it lacked clarity and it was doubtful if the government would get money for the projects.