Political leaders in Tamil Nadu have widely panned the Interim Railway Budget delivered in the Lok Sabha by Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday. The widest complaint from PMK founder S Ramadoss, MDMK chief Vaiko and VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan was that Tamil Nadu has been ignored in the announcement of new services.
Another major factor the three leaders lashed out at was the announcement made by Kharge that the Centre is considering opening up the railway sector for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for the purpose of infrastructure development. Another charge was the apprehension that the Centre was trying to deregulate railway tariffs.
“The setting up of a separate structure to fix the tariff is a bid by this government to justify frequent hikes, just like it did with petroleum pricing. This Interim Railway Budget is one that brings a little joy and a lot of disappointment to Tamil Nadu, as there are no new railway services or projects that have been announced,” said Ramadoss.
Thirumavalavan welcomed the fact that there were no tariff hikes in the Interim Railway Budget, and wondered if that was because it wasn’t a full-fledged budget. He rejected the Minister’s statement that the Centre was considering the idea of opening up railway infrastructure development to foreign direct investment.
Vaiko, who has already jointed the BJP alliance in the coming Lok Sabha elections, was emphatic in dismissing the interim budget as ineffectual. “At a time when the days of the UPA government are numbered, the interim railway budget fails to fulfil any aspirations,” he said in a statement here.