MUMBAI: Severely criticising the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, ruling NDA ally Shiv Sena on Thursday dismissed it as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "expensive dream" which will "loot the nation of Rs 108,000 crore".
Moreover, the newly-appointed Railway Minister Piyush Goyal -- who is also the BJP treasurer -- has been specifically brought in only for this project, the Sena said, adding "as part of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's 'policy of transparency'."
The foundation stone of India's first high-profile high-speed rail project was jointly laid in Ahmedabad on Thursday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.
"Japan will bring everything for the project - from nails to rails, manpower to technology and even cement-concrete,... The land and money will come from Gujarat and Maharashtra, and Tokyo will rake in all the profits. But, despite the loot and fraud, all are congratulating Modi's pet project," the Shiv Sena said in sharp edits in the party's mouthpieces "Saamana" and "Dopahar Ka Saamana".
The Sena also pointed out that Mumbai's overburdened and unsafe suburban rail network was suffering for lack of funds and improvement, many incomplete rail projects languish in the state.
"However, bullet trains will now zip between Ahmedabad-Mumbai without anybody even asking for it."
"Bullet Train is not India's ordinary masses' dream... It will cater only to the rich-and-wealthy classes for which Goyal has been specially chosen..., and to give something 'new' to the industrialists of Gujarat where elections are coming up shortly," the Sena pointed out.
Recalling past mega-projects, the Sena said first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had laid the foundation for many developmental projects and PSUs, ranging from the Bhakra-Nangal Dam to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, and many other schemes that helped the country progress in technology and science.
"All those projects were needed by the country. Is the bullet train a project of national importance for which such a huge amount is being spent to cover the 508-km distance at 350-kmph speed?" the Sena demanded.
Training guns on Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the Sena said of the 508 km, 156 km and four stations will run through this state for which it would need to shell out at least Rs 30,000 crore, plus tackle the problems of rehabilitation of farmers and project-affected-persons.
"When we raised the issue of complete waiver of farmers' loans, the CM had warned of 'anarchy' in the fund-starved state. Now, you (CM) are putting Rs 30,000-plus for the PM's rich dream," the Sena taunted.
Though the BJP is touting the high-speed rail as Modi's dream, the Sena reminded it was also Modi's ambitious dream to bring back Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir into India, "after which the bullet train should run smoothly from New Delhi to PoK via Kashmir and Tibet", it challenged.
"Now we hope and pray... the bullet train is not used to carry out a 'plunder' of Mumbai," the edit concluded.