New Delhi: Accusing the Central Government of raising railway fares through the 'back-door', the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday said the Railway Budget proposals for 2013-14 has definitely exposed the UPA Government's inability and lack of vision to revive the ailing railway network.
The Congress Party, on the other hand, praised Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal for preparing a 'sound and forward-looking' budget, and said that despite the expected deficit of Rs. 850 crore, the government has managed to come out with a balanced budget without hiking passenger fares.
"Even after a huge loss of Rs.850 crore, the government has decided not to raise the fares and announced plans to connect Arunachal Pradesh with rest of the country through the railways. Other than these important decisions, the government has also shown concerns about passenger safety," Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said.
Bansal also announced to create more than one lakh jobs in railways and 40 percent seats will be reserved for backward classes. The number of women in the Railway Protection Force (RPF) will be also increased to strengthen the security for female passengers. So, it is overall a very balanced and sound Railway Budget," he added.
However, dubbing the budget as eyewash, BJP president Rajnath Singh said the railways is suffering from the UPA Government's economic disorientation and financial mismanagement.
"The government had already hiked the passenger fares before going into the Budget Session and now they has introduced dynamic fuel adjustment component on freight rates, which will result into a five percent increase in rates. Any increase in freight rates is bound to push all round inflation in the country. The Rail Budget also proposes increase in Tatkal reservation charges and Super-fast charges, which will be adjusted in passenger fares," said the BJP president in an official statement released from the party headquarters here.
"The common man is forced to pay for mounting losses in the Railways. The Rail Budget has definitely exposed the UPA Government's inability and lack of vision to revive the ailing Indian Railways," the statement reads.
Bansal, who presented his maiden Railway Budget in the Lok Sabha this morning, however, said there would be no hike in passenger fares, as a hike had already been introduced in January this year, but added that certain charges like supplementary fee, superfast fee, reservation fee, cancellation fee and Tatkal charges will see a marginal hike.
The Railway Minister also underlined the measures to make the Indian Railways a better and safer mode of transport and said that the time had come to make the organisation financially sustainable.
Bansal further said the rail network needs to be expanded at a faster rate, and added that the growth of railways is linked to the nation's growth.