New Delhi: Railway budget 2014-15 came under a blistering attack from the opposition, with Congress, Trinamool Congress and Left lambasting the government over the issues of FDI, privatisation and the PPP route and Mamata Banerjee went to the extent of claiming it was an attempt to "sell out the country."
"The government is attempting to raise the FDI limit in defence sector to 100 per cent and contemplating FDI in railways. This is nothing but to sell out the country," Banerjee, the West Bengal Chief Minister, said in Hooghly district of the state.
TMC`s arch detractor CPI(M) spoke in similar vein with party leader Sitaram Yechury saying the emphasis on foreign investment and the Public Private Partnership (PPP) route was "very dangerous".
He alleged that such a move would only jeopardise the railway`s "social role" and its contribution in national integration.
Congress leader and former Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury expressed apprehensions of "more and more privatisation" in the railways in the wake of the budget. He also faulted the privatisation of "high-earning areas" like parcel freight being offered to private investors.
He wondered why FDI was being talked about in the railways when surplus investible funds from PSUs could be used for the creation of infrastructure.
While Chowdhury dubbed the budget as "lacklustre", TMC leader Kalyan Banerjee termed it as "anti-people".
CPI also slammed the government for "burdening the people" by hiking passenger fare and freight charges before the budget and said the ruling coalition`s priorities on resource mobilisation were "highly questionable".
As Banerjee`s party members disrupted the Lok Sabha demanding withdrawal of the rail budget, the TMC chief, who is also a former Railway Minister, said "so many bluffs have been given before the elections. Why did they not tell the people earlier of bringing FDI in defence and railways. Why now after the elections?"
BJP`s Tamil Nadu allies -- DMDK, PMK and MDMK, were cautious in welcoming the proposals made in the budget.
PMK founder S Ramadoss said Gowda had presented `disappointment` to the people of the state who had high expectations from him. He also said that the Modi Government should ensure that the participation of private players and FDI does not result in privatisation of Railways.