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Rail Budget: What do people expect from Mamata?

Last updated on: February 17, 2011 16:10 IST

Rail Budget: What do people expect from Mamata?

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Indrani Roy Mitra in Kolkata

The forthcoming Railway Budget is, perhaps, going to be the toughest one for Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Her detractors are up in arms against her for having allegedly led the Indian Railways towards 'bankruptcy' whereas her loyalists, at least some of them, are skeptical about her 'adventurous' plans.

If the current revenue figures are any yardstick to go by, the railways could just about miss their target for the present fiscal ahead of the Rail Budget which is to be announced on February 25.

How do the common people rate Banerjee as the railway minister? Has she done any good to the railways or has she undone all the hard work of her predecessor Lalu Prasad. We spoke to some people from her hometown of Kolkata.

Click NEXT to read what they have to say. . .


Image: Passengers stand on a platform at a metro station in Kolkata.
Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters
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'Not a lopsided Budget, please, Ms Banerjee'

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Bandana Adhikari
Government servant

What do you expect from the Railway Budget this year?

I expect a balanced Budget -- a Budget not unfavourably tilted towards our state. We seek more trains across all the states of India.

Also, being a daily rail commuter, I would appeal to her to pay more attention to better maintenance of the local trains. They are in a sad state.

What are the areas that Banerjee should focus on?

She has been inaugurating quite a few trains of late. But some of them are yet to take off or so I heard. Therefore, I feel Banerjee should concentrate on proper running of the new trains and their maintenance.

Do you think Mamata Banerjee has been doing a better job than her predecessor Lalu Prasad?

Not really. Media reports say while the railways made huge profits during Prasad's tenure, it has run into losses during Banerjee's time. If you take railways for a company, that definitely is not an encouraging scenario.

It's time Banerjee did something to curb the losses. 

Is it going to be a difficult Railway Budget to present this time?

Oh yes! Common people aren't too happy with her moves and the railway minister has to take some drastic steps to bring the railways back on track. It won't be easy for her to plug the losses the railways have been incurring of late.

Mention some positive and negative aspects of the railway minister.

Banerjee is a very honest individual. She is sincere and hardworking.

But she often steams ahead riding on her emotions. Emotion has no place in politics. And it's time she realised that.

Click NEXT to read further. . .


Image: Bandana Adhikari.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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'Didi should listen to her head more often'

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Khokan Sarder
Green coconut vendor

What do you expect from the Railway Budget this year?

I expect a zero-loss Railway Budget -- a budget that will not impose more debt burden on the railways.

Though people often accuse Mamata Banerjee of doing favouritism to Bengal, to be honest, I don't mind such a gesture.

Our state has been neglected for long and Banerjee's contribution will indeed draw a new, improved railway map for the state.

What are the areas that Banerjee should focus on?

Didi should concentrate on proper running of the trains as punctuality is hardly adhered to these days.

Do you think Mamata Banerjee has been doing a better job than her predecessor Lalu Prasad?

Yes, definitely. Lalu Prasad did not do much for our state. But ever since Didi took over the reins from Prasad, she has dedicated her time and energy for the betterment of Bengal. 

And we are grateful to her. 

Is it going to be a difficult Railway Budget to present this time?

Yes. We have been hearing that the railways are into loss. And losses are indeed difficult to handle. But we, the people of West Bengal have full confidence in her.

She has faced many difficult situations in the past and has come out victorious. Therefore, I am sure, she will present a Budget that will wipe out the losses.

Mention some positive and negative aspects of the Railway Minister.

Banerjee is a very honest, hardworking and dedicated soul. She has a clean image, unbecoming of a politician. India needs lawmakers of her nature.

But she is very impulsive and often takes rash decisions. To avoid making mistakes, she should listen to her head more often than her heart.

Click NEXT to read further. . .


Image: Khokan Sarder.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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'Trains should be more punctual'

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Ganadhar Maity
Jute mill employee

What do you expect from the Railway Budget this year?

I expect a balanced Budget -- a Budget that will not cater to only Bengal.

After all, Mamata Banerjee is the Union Railway Minister and, therefore, she should pay equal attention to all the states of India.

What are the areas that Banerjee should focus on?

Ms Banerjee should concentrate on proper running of the trains, their maintenance, on anti-accident measures among other things.

Moreover, she should focus on vigilance to stop corruption.

Do you think Mamata Banerjee has been doing a better job than her predecessor Lalu Prasad?

I cannot say so. Lalu Prasad's image is not as clean as that of Ms Banerjee. Yet, he was a better administrator. More importantly, he could turn the Railways around.

However, losses for the Railways have started mounting under didi's tenure and that is not a very happy scene.

Is it going to be a difficult Railway Budget to present this time?

Yes. Things are not looking up for the Railways this time and didi would have to take some very measured steps to surmount the losses that have been accumulating.

It would be interesting to see how she handles the issue.

Mention some positive and negative aspects of the Railway Minister.

Mamata Banerjee is a very honest, hardworking, sincere and dedicated individual. She is, perhaps, one of the few Indian politicians who think and feel for the people.

But she is very emotional and is known to take faulty, irrational decisions at times. To succeed as a politician, didi should be driven by logic than anything else.

Click NEXT to read further. . .


Image: Ganadhar Maity.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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'No hike in fares, please'

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Bharat Bhushan
Daily passenger

What do you expect from the Railway Budget this year?

I expect no hike in fares but at the same time I don't want the losses of the railways to mount. Mamata Banerjee should take into account the advice of veteran economists to handle these.

What are the areas that Banerjee should focus on?

Banerjee should concentrate on anti-acident measures above everything else. Accidents have marred her entire tenure and it's time she did something.

Also, she should focus on the trains' punctuality and maintenance.

Local train network across the country, too, has huge room for improvement.

Do you think Mamata Banerjee has been doing a better job than her predecessor Lalu Prasad?

It is improper to make such comparisons. Lalu Prasad's vision was different than that of Mamata Banerjee's.

However, one has to admit that while Prasad made the Railways earn profits, Banerjee's measures have not been that beneficial for the Railways. However, she is an experienced politician and I am sure she would come up with an intelligent Budget.

Is it going to be a difficult Railway Budget to present this time?

Yes, of course. Countering losses is never an easy exercise and Ms Banerjee has to take some quick and well-measured steps to plug the holes.

I would be curious to see how she handles the issue.

Mention some positive and negative aspects of the Railway Minister.

None can question the honesty of Mamata Banerjee. Apart from being hardworking, sincere and dedicated, she has a spot-free and clean image.

But one has to admit that she is extremely emotional and often takes irrational measures driven by her mind.

She is also very autocratic and does not listen to anyone. It's high time, she decentralised power both in the railways as also in her party -- Trinamool Congress.

Click NEXT to read further. . .


Image: Bharat Bhushan.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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'More trains okay, but do they run on time?'

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Pravakar Devsharma
Retired Central government employee

What do you expect from the Railway Budget this year?

Mamata Banerjee should not raise train fares in the forthcoming Budget. For, the people of India are already gasping under the pressure of inflation.

And a hike in fares is the last thing that they want.

What are the areas that Banerjee should focus on?

Of late, Banerjee has been inaugurating one train after another, especially in our state. But my question is: are these trains running on time?

Unless the infrastructure improves, there is no point in having more trains. Railway network of India can improve only when the trains are well maintained and punctual.

Do you think Mamata Banerjee has been doing a better job than her predecessor Lalu Prasad?

No, I think Lalu Prasad was better. Banerjee is an honest politician but she is a poor administrator. Prasad made a much better railway minister.

Is it going to be a difficult Railway Budget to present this time?

Yes, especially because of the losses that the railways have been incurring over the years. Banerjee would have to take some well calculated steps to counter the losses.

Though I generally don't listen to the Budget speeches, this time I would be really interested to hear her speak.

Mention some positive and negative aspects of the Railway Minister.

Mamata Banerjee is one of the very few politicians who think for the people at least to some extent. She is very honest and hardworking.

However, she is an emotional soul and her mind often pervades logic and goads her to take wrong steps.

That is a dangerous trait for any one in politics.

Click NEXT to read further. . .


Image: Pravakar Devsharma.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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'Security in trains? It's a big joke'

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Somnath Halder
Salesman

What do you expect from the Railway Budget this year?

First, I appeal to Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee not to raise the fares. As prices of essential commodities are going through the roof, a hike will literally make people like us starve to death.

Also, I want Banerjee to improve the local train network across West Bengal as the entire system has gone awry.

What are the areas that Banerjee should focus on?

Banerjee should concentrate on the security in trains. Commuters have a tough time travelling by train especially at odd hours.

Snatchers and pickpockets have a great time as railway police has virtually become a non-entity.

Do you think Mamata Banerjee has been doing a better job than her predecessor Lalu Prasad?

No. I think railways did much better under Prasad. There used to be less accidents, fewer robberies and more profits.

Though we had hoped high of Didi, she let us down.

Is it going to be a difficult Railway Budget to present this time?

I am not qualified enough to answer this question.

Mention some positive and negative aspects of the Railway Minister.

Didi's honesty and sincerity are unquestionable.

But honesty alone doesn't one make anyone a good politician. Didi needs to be more headstrong, practical, unbiased and lenient towards her Opposition.

For effective running of her department, she needs to have a more mature approach towards politics.

Click NEXT to read further. . .


Image: Somnath Halder.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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'India deserves a better Railway Minister'

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Supratim Mondal
Student

What do you expect from the Railway Budget this year?

I want this year's Budget to be balanced and fair. I appeal to Union railway minister to focus on the railway network across the country.

She should not come up with yet another pro-Bengal Railway Budget.

What are the areas that Banerjee should focus on?

Security in the trains has become a major issue these days and Ms Banerjee must focus on it.

Railway police has become either defunct or useless and as tax-paying citizens of India, we demand an explanation from her.

Also, measures need to be taken for proper and punctual running of the trains.

Do you think Mamata Banerjee has been doing a better job than her predecessor Lalu Prasad?

No. I think Lalu Prasad was a much better railway minister. He was an able administrator with a better understanding of the economics.

Banerjee is rather illogical and weird.

Is it going to be a difficult Railway Budget to present this time?

Yes, with losses for the railways mounting, this year's Budget won't be a cakewalk for Banerjee.

Mention some positive and negative aspects of the Railway Minister.

Banerjee is very honest but honesty alone doesn't make one a good lawmaker.

She is rash, impulsive and highly emotional individual. These qualities have marred her political career in the past. Banerjee is good at heart but 'bad' at handling politics.

India deserves a better Railway Minister.


Image: Supratim Mondal.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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