Kolkata, Feb 26 (IANS) People of West Bengal Saturday woke up to banner headlines in language newspapers that have sung paeans to Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee for showering goodies on the poll-bound state. However, some critical voices have pointed out that many of her proposals in the previous two budgets have remained non-starters.
All the papers highlighted the slew of projects Banerjee announced for the state. These included two Duranto Express trains out of total nine mentioned in this year’s budget, 20 Express trains out of total 56 proposed nationwide, one Vivek Express out of four (on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda), and three Kabiguru Express (celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore).
Besides, the state has also got one of the 20 Rajyarani Express trains, one of the four Janmabhoomi Expresses, five of the 22 diesel electric multiple units (DEMU) and three mainline electric multiple units (MEMU) out of eight proposed in the budget.
Leading Bengali morninger Ananda Bazar Patrika came up with the headline “Vote Budget-e inam-er barta” (Reward announced in Vote Budget) referring to the assembly polls in the state months from now where Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is a prime contender.
It also referred to her novel proposal of gifting two new trains and two railway projects to any state that ensures trouble-free running of trains for the whole year.
The Bengali daily Pratidin’s headline reads “Hain, Mamatai paren” (Yes, only Mamata can do it). The paper prominently mentioned the Metro coach factory Banerjee has proposed at Polba near Singur in Hooghly district, and claimed that the budget was a model for an alternative economic policy as it contained a large number of projects involving education, tourism, health, and social welfare sectors.
Dainik Statesman, a Bengali daily run by the Statesman Group, devoted almost the entire frontpage to the railway budget.
Its streaming headline was a pun on the Railway minister’s name. “Mamatamoyee Railway Budget”, it read. ‘Mamatamoyee’ is Bengali for kind.
Another leading Bengali newspaper, Bartaman came out with a header “Banglake Duhat bhore upohar Mamatar” (Banerjee rains goodies on Bengal). Its lead report mentioned the Metro coach factory proposed near Singur and the Railway Industrial Park proposed at Jellingham near Nandigram.
The paper also had a separate report highlighting that freight and passenger fares have not been increased while emphasis has been given on passenger amenities and safety.
The banner headline in the daily Aajkaal read “Mamata-r vote Express” (Mamata’s vote Express), indicating the budget was aimed at raising Banerjee’s stock among the electorate ahead of the Bengal polls.
Ganashakti, the mouthpiece of ruling Left Front major Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), was, however, highly critical of the railway budget.
“Sunya kolsir awaj beshi” (Empty vessel makes noise) said the daily in a streaming headline and claimed that the proposals made in the two previous railway budgets presented by Banerjee have all “disappeared” in the latest document.
In its frontpage lead, the daily put the budget under the scanner and claimed that Banerjee’s old proposals for the Eastern Freight Corridor and world class stations have not proceeded an inch while work has started in only four of the 143 multi-functional complexes mentioned in 2009 and 2010.
“One gets an idea about the nature of the promises being made when Bolpur, earlier mentioned in the World Class station list, now finds itself downgraded to Adarsha station,” the paper said.