Mamata woos aam aadmi with populist budget

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Mamata Banerjee
New Delhi, Feb 25: Indian Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee presented her budget in the Parliament for the year 2010-2011. While the budget did not spring much surprises or shock for the common man, with no freight rate hike or passenger rate hike. The Railways have doubled the market borrowing this time around raising much concern. Public-Private partnership projects have been announced with no tangible definition on how she plans to recover income from the already sorry state of the Indian Railways.

She expressed concern over the number of railway service disruptions that has caused a considerable hit to its finances. Promising to invest a whopping 576.3 billion rupees in the network in the financial year 2011/12, the figure not going down well with economists.

Mamata drew flak for her large number of Pro-Bengal policies with as many as 30 new trains for Bengal and a coach factory in Singur, West Bengal. With an apparent eye on the upcoming elections, she has managed to appease the communist comrade in Kerala as well with one another coach factory for Kerala.

The Prime Minister lauded Mamata Banerjee for her “common-mans budget" and congratulated her efforts to understand the pulse of the common man. Mamata commented before presenting her budget and said, “"We have taken a two-point approach. On the one hand by sustainable, efficient and rapidly growing Indian Railways, and on the other, by an acute sense of social responsibility towards the common people of this nation."

Now Indian awaits the Union Budget 2011. Will that budget echo populist sentiments and quell the inflation woes and general trust deficit that the public has towards the UPA government. Let's wait and watch.

Railway Budget 2011
: Updates

The Budget presentation concludes.
1:50 PM

- Three new Shatabdi trains introduced; the routes are Pune-Secunderabad, Jaipur-Agra and Ludhiana-Delhi.
- Incentives for students in the form of special trains for them.
- As much as nine additional services for Chennai suburban service.
- New trains for Vivekananda, Tagore birth anniversaries.
1:47 PM

- Mamata did not ignore the elderly in her budget. She has given relief for senior citizens and will decrease the age bar for senior citizens. For women, cut off age will be 58 yrs from 60 yrs. The concession on ticket for senior citizens will be 40 per cent.
1:40 PM

- Mamata launches new Duranto services.
- New Duronto trains on Allahabad-Mumbai, Madurai-Chennai, Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram, Pune-Ahmedabad, Sealdah-Puri, and Mumbai Central-New Delhi routes.
1:34 PM

- Mamata forsees Rs 5,258 crore excess funds and Rs 5,260 crore savings in FY12.
- A substantial increase in Duronto services.
- AC Duronto: Allahabad-Mumbai, Sealdah-Puri, Mumbai Central-New Delhi, Ahmedabad-Rohtak.
1:26 PM

Uproar in Assembly over Mamata's largesse towards West Bengal. Furore over Mamata's pro-Bengal policies. Mamata shouts, "I am proud of MY STATE".
1:05 PM

- Mamata announces that 2011 will be the 'Year of Green Energy'.
- Showcasing her social responsibility, Mamata announce that Railways will employ 16000 ex-servicemen from Mar 2011.
- Also, special incentives for physically challenged people towards traveling in trains.
- As reason for the middle-class to rejoice, the charges for ticket booking will be reduced. Booking will be cheaper by Rs 10 for AC and Rs 5 for non AC.
- Railways large-hearted nature showcased. Schemes for railway employees and scholarship schemes for children of railway employees raised to Rs 1200.
1:01 PM

-The rail accident rate has gone down from 0.29 per cent last year to 0.17 per cent now.
-Anti-collision devices to be commissioned in major railway zones including South and South Central.
-A whopping 1500 trains were cancelled, 3500 trains re-scheduled last year due to protests, violence and other unfortunate incidents.
12:54 PM

-Proposals to set up funds for social sector projects.
-New railway lines in difficult, underprivileged areas.
-Rs 10,000 crore to be raised through tax free bonds.

Mamata claims the pro-poor Izzat ticket was a success that helps the poor travel 100 kms on Rs 25. Railways to provide 10,000 shelter to shelter less people.

700 mw captive gas-based power plant for railways.
12:37 PM

-To set up coach factory in Singur, West Bengal.
-Will set up rail factory in Jammu and Kashmir.
-To set up rail industrial park in Nandigram.
-First coach out of Rae Baraeli to be out I the next 3 months.
-Diesel Locomotive Industry to be set up in Manipur.
12:34 PM

Mamata says she is aware of the social responsibility of the Indian Railways and confirms that budget will address the need of the common man.

New Delhi, Feb 25: Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee loses cool over Black Money issue and presents Economic Survey for 2010-2011.
12:12 PM

Railway Budget 2011: Is it for the aam aadmi?

New Delhi, Feb 25: Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee will present her fifth Railway Budget in the Parliament today (Feb 25). She has arrived in the Parliament and will begin her presentation shortly. With the Railway Budget, the onus is to spring back the Railways into its former glory. Mamata's pro-Bengal policies is also in the limelight and she will have a lot of questions to answer and hopefully she would answer them effectively through the course of the budget.

With the West Bengal Assembly elections two months away, the questions everyone is asking is, whether Mamata will again play appeasement politics. With huge incentives doled out to her own region, the questions only seems fair.

With the Railways being cash-crunch at the moment and the government entity not in a plump position any more, thanks to the sensibilities of the Former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mamata will have to carry out some of the promises she made earlier to render some credibility in her favour.

The Railway expenses have jumped by Rs. 1,300 crore, while earnings have gone down by Rs. 1,100 crore. Also, under the scanner is the large number of rail accidents that have occurred during her tenure. With increasing cases of casualties on trains being reported, women's safety within trains is also a cause of much concern.

Let us hope that Mamata Banerjee will be able to cater to the “aam aadmi" as promised.

12:06 PM

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