Lalu Prasad, who as railway minister claimed to upgrade 26 railway stations to world-class levels, set the cat among the pigeons on Tuesday by quipping it was just an 'idea' which cannot be implemented.
His comments, made in his typical style during a debate on the Railway Budget in the Lok Sabha, gave a handle to the BJP which said his 'serious' remarks put a question mark on the UPA government's promises.
BJP member Ananth Kumar was taking the government to task on rail projects announced in the Budget by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and commented, "Sab kuch Bangal, baaki sab kangal (all projects for Bengal, the rest are beggars)."
Kumar, who was referring to Banerjee's promise to upgrade 309 stations as 'model' ones, said 137 of them were in West Bengal.
Intervening, Prasad said, "World-class station banana to ek soch hai. Yeh banna to hai nahi. Aap pareshan kyon ho rahe hain? (To upgrade stations to world-class level is just an idea which cannot be implemented. Why are you worried?)."
In this connection, he said during his tenure also he had proposed to upgrade Patna station which never happened.
His comments provoked all-round laughter in the House.
Leader of the Opposition L K Advani was seen making some comments which were amplified by Ananth Kumar.
"Advaniji is saying that after such an admission by Lalu, there is no need for debate," Kumar said.
Proceeding further, Kumar said, "Lalu has put a question mark on his five budgets as railway minister (during the previous tenure of the UPA government). It is (a) serious (matter) as it shows that Lalu made only empty slogans and implemented nothing."
The BJP member sought to rope Prime Minister Manmohan Singh into the matter by saying the latter had "praised and endorsed" Prasad as railway minister. "What kind of ministers does the prime minister endorse?... Another minister is facing CVC questioning," he said.
He pointed towards Sonia Gandhi and said the UPA chairperson was present in the house and that the UPA should introspect on this.
Banerjee, who was listening to the exchange, stood up and said she would listen to members from all regions and take necessary action on their demands.