Chandigarh, Feb 25 (Calcutta Tube) Lashing out at successive railway ministers for favouring their home states in allocation of railway projects and trains, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal Thursday said that it was time that the railway ministers started representing the country rather than their own states.
Badal described the railway budget presented by Railways Minister Mamta Banerjee in parliament Wednesday as the ‘state rail budget of West Bengal’.
Talking to reporters in Punjab’s Bhiwanigarh town, he said it was ‘unfortunate for Indian polity that all the railway ministers since independence, except Lal Bahadur Shastri, were either from Bihar or West Bengal and all these ministers have focused their attention to expand rail network in their respective states.’
‘Union ministers must understand the fact that they are representing the whole country and not one state,’ Badal, who is also the president of the Akali Dal, said.
Regretting the neglect of Punjab in the railway network since independence, Badal said that Punjab, being a land-locked state, has locational disadvantage when compared to coastal states, adding the expansion of rail network was imperative for its economic as well as industrial growth but the ‘railway minister has refused to see beyond West Bengal’.
He said that the long pending demand of extending rail freight corridor up to Amritsar has again been overlooked in this year’s railway budget.
‘Despite Punjab contributing maximum to the national grain pool, the union government was failing to recognise Punjab’s contribution to make country self-reliant on the food security front,’ he added.