The Opposition on Tuesday slammed the Railway Budget 2004-05 as a 'farce' saying there was 'nothing new' in it, but welcomed the decision to provide free travel to youth appearing for job interviews and 'village-on-wheels' enabling the elderly to travel to pilgrim spots.
"There is nothing new in the budget and whatever new lines have been proposed by the minister, had already been approved by the previous National Democratic Alliance government," Opposition leaders said and wondered from where the government proposed to raise the resources without increasing fares and freight rates.
The Congress and other allies of the United Progressive Alliance government, however, rubbished the criticism of the Opposition parties saying it would not be fair to comment right at the beginning that there would be no money for the projects.
Describing the Budget as 'anti-development,' BJP leader V K Malhotra said increase in parcel rates will affect the people and that introduction of kulhars (earthen cups) and khadi was nothing but a drama.
He said the announcement of new trains had in fact been made by the previous government and expressed serious doubts as to how Railways would raise the resources for new projects.
"There is nothing new in the budget. Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav has only repeated what had been stated in the earlier budget of running 18 new trains," said JD(U) leader Prabhunath Singh.
Though Shiv Sena member Chandrakant Khaire welcomed the proposals for free tickets to youth appearing for government interviews and the 'village-on-wheels' project, he felt Maharashtra and Marathwada had been neglected.
However, CPI leader Gurudas Das Gupta said that in the past two decades no Railway budget had been presented which did not propose hike in fares and freights.
"It is a courageous step. Money can be raised from the market," he said, dismissing the Opposition's criticism that the new projects could not be undertaken without resources.
RJD leader Devendra Prasad Yadav said the budget would not burden the common man and the proposals were meant to help the deprived sections.
Ramdas Athawale (RPI) welcomed the proposed special drive for recruitment of SC and ST candidates in the Railways and demanded more facilities for journalists.
Abdus Samad Samadani (ML) described as a 'historic step' the decision to allow free travel to youth appearing for interviews for government jobs.
Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said it would not affect the common man and at the first look it appeared to be a good budget.
DMK leader and Union Minister T R Baalu described it as poor-oriented and common man's budget.