New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who on Thursday presented his second consecutive railway budget, began his speech at rapid speed – like a speeding train – and kept the pace till the end, with many people struggling to keep track of the points he was making.
Prabhu’s speech began in pin drop silence in the Lok Sabha but ended on a noisy note after opposition benches lost their patience in the absence of anything concrete for their constituents.
But there were disturbances only on two occasions when he spoke.
The first was when he took the name of Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while announcing the provision of passenger amenities and beautification of stations at pilgrimage centres including Ajmer, Amritsar, Dwarka, Gaya and Puri.
The second time was shortly before the end of his speech when opposition members found no mention of new trains.
But Prabhu got support from the treasury benches whenever he mentioned the achievements of the Modi government and announced new projects.
Modi, seated with Home Minister Rajnath Singh, was among the first to greet Prabhu after his budget speech.
He was followed by Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Road and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi left the house after making disappointed gestures.
Jaitley came five minutes after Prabhu began speaking.
In his speech, Prabhu recalled former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and quoted Hindi poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Gautam Buddha too.
He mentioned Vajpayee twice while mentioning the challenging times the Indian economy was facing and the looming impact of the Seventh Pay Commission and increased productivity bonus payouts.
“These are challenging times, may be one of the toughest. At this moment, I am reminded of Vajpayee’s lines,” he said, reciting one of his poems “vipdaaye aati hai aye, hum na rukenge, hum na rukenge, aaghato ki kya chinta, hum na jhukenge, hum na jhukenge”.
Prabhu quoted Harivansh Rai Bachhan when he mentioned new structures needed for Indian railways. “Nav umang, nav tarang jeevan ka nav prasang, naval chah, naval rah jeevan ka nav pravah,” he recited.
At the end of his budget speech, Prabhu quoted Gautam Buddha to say that whenever one contemplates a journey, there are two mistakes one can make — not starting and not going all the way.
“We have already started the journey and I intend to go all the way and we will not rest till we take Indian Railways to a destination called success,” he said.