Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday termed Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda’s budget proposal on foreign direct investment (FDI) in Railways as an attempt to privatise the sector.
It was known that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was for privatisation, but the Railways should not be privatised as it catered to the common people, Mr. Siddaramaiah told reporters here.
Mr. Gowda had increased passenger fares by 14.2 per cent and freight charges by 6.5 per cent a few days before the budget, he recalled, and added that the Railway Minister had belied the hopes of people that he would present a “good” budget. Whether or not the Railways would incur loss or profit was not important, but the common man should not suffer, he said, and sought to know where were the good days the Bharatiya Janata Party promised before the Lok Sabha elections.
On Mr. Gowda’s request to the States to raise their share to meet the cost of railway projects, the Chief Minister said Karnataka was sharing 50 per cent of the project cost, apart from giving land for free. He urged the Union government to take the extra burden.
About the announcement on suburban railways for Bangalore, he said, “That it is only a proposal.” While Mr. Gowda had sanctioned bullet trains between two cities in several States, he had tagged on Mysore–Bangalore bullet train with Chennai, which was not asked by the State, he said.
Public Works Minister H.C. Mahdevappa said Mr. Gowda was “abdicating his responsibility” by proposing FDI in the Railways. He said Mr. Gowda had failed to announce any air-conditioned train or express train for the State. He sought to know if announcing a bullet train from Mysore via Bangalore to Chennai was a move to placate the Tamil Nadu government.
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Parameshwara said the Modi government had been giving one shock or the other to people from day one. He claimed that while the Congress-led UPA government had served the common man, the BJP-led government was commercialising the service sector.
Staff Correspondent from Tumkur writes:
Tumkur MP S.P. Muddahanume Gowda on Tuesday thanked Mr. Gowda for announcing a new passenger train from Tumkur to Yeshwantpur. He, however, expressed his unhappiness over the budget proposals not including Tumkur–Maddur, Tumkur–Rayadurga and Tumkur–Davangere railway projects. The former Tumkur MP G.S. Basavaraj has welcomed the Railway Budget.