Patna, Sept 21: Former Railway minister and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today criticised the decision of Union cabinet to scrap separate Railway budget and merge it with general budget which he said would end autonomy of the largest public carrier in the country.
Making a strong point against ending over nine-decade old tradition of presentation of separate Rail budget in Parliament, he asked the NDA government at the Centre to rethink its decision.
The Union Cabinet today approved advancing presentation of the annual Budget by a month, scrapped over nine-decade old tradition of having a separate Railway Budget and removed classifications for expenditure to make the exercise simpler.
"Based on my personal experience as Railway minister I can say the decision will have no benefit," said Kumar, who was Railway minister during NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee
"It seems Railway is not on priority of the NDA government at the Centre...this step would end autonomy of Railway," he told reporters emerging from a press conference on International Sikh conclave.
Railway is means of transportation of poor people who have unbreaking faith on the largest public transporter, he added.
"Common man has faith on Railway which would be dented by this decision," Kumar said.
Presentation of a separate Railway budget has been a tradition which all the successive governments followed earlier, he said.
Counting virtues of separate Railway budget, Kumar said the dividend paid by Railway to the government is decided by Parliament.
Attraction of MPs for Railway budget is so deep that I have seen Parliament deliberating the entire night on Rail budget, he said.