THE ART OF RILING
THE TELEGRAPH, Calcutta, Thursday , March 15 , 2012
WHAT DINESH SAID, WHAT DIDI MAY HAVE HEARD
In his maiden budget speech that stretched up to two hours, Dinesh Trivedi tried to break from the past in an attempt to chart a new course for Indian Railways. In doing so, he made several statements, some of which might have irked Mamata. The Telegraph compiles the statements that would not have been music to Mamata’s ears
Dinesh: I took a vow to eliminate recurrence of such painful happenings (accidents) and decided that my entire emphasis is going to be on strengthening Safety, Safety and Safety. The death on rail tracks just can never be tolerated and it is not acceptable.
Didi may decipher: Is he saying that earlier ministers, including me, did not pay enough attention to safety?
Dinesh: There has been considerable criticism of Indian Railways in regard to only partial implementation of recommendations of several committees set up in the past. In this context, the Safety Committee has also observed that Indian Railways suffers from an ‘implementation bug’
Didi may decipher: It looks like he is saying I failed to ensure implementation of safety measures when I held charge
Dinesh: The railways have a large basket of pending projects. A total of 487 projects of new lines, gauge conversion, doubling and railway electrification with a throw-forward liability of over one lakh crore have already been approved by this august House in the past and are at various stages of execution.
Didi may decipher: Once is happenstance, twice coincidence but third time is enemy action. This is the third putdown for me and my predecessors
Dinesh: The choice before me was either just to keep the system dragging or build a new, safe and modern, passenger and freight transportation system which would contribute at least 2 to 2.5 per cent to the GDP of the nation as against less than 1 per cent at present, and provide much needed employment opportunity to our people
Didi may decipher: He is suggesting I did not contribute significantly to national income. He is also putting a clever job spin
Dinesh: To bring down the operating ratio from 95 per cent to 84.9 per cent in 2012-13 and to 74 per cent in the terminal year of 12th Plan which would be an improvement over the best ever achieved by Indian Railways.
Didi may decipher: By claiming he will pull off such a big turnaround, he is only bringing more attention to the railway mess he inherited
Dinesh: Within the constraints of funds, the Annual Plan outlay for the year 2012-13 has been targeted at Rs 60,100 crore, which is highest ever plan investment.
Didi may decipher: Definitely, he is saying Dinesh will do better than Mamata
Dinesh: With almost 80 per cent of the traffic carried on 40 per cent of the rail network, the high density network (HDN) routes are over-saturated and there is a crying need to upgrade and expand capacity to reduce congestion, provide time for maintenance and improve productivity and safety
Didi may decipher: He might as well have bluntly said that we went on adding trains without thinking about adding to capacity
Dinesh: Stations and freight terminals are our business centres. Indian Railways have often drawn flak for not providing an enabling ambience to these business centres, which are used by customers
Didi may decipher: How dare he? Can anyone say the riot of colours I personally chose for Duronto does not make up for the lack of ambience anywhere else?
Dinesh: State governments have also been requested to come forward for sharing the cost of the respective projects and to provide land free of cost to facilitate early construction of projects
Didi may decipher: Heresy, Dinesh, heresy. In one fell blow, you have desecrated federalism as well as our presiding deity called land. Hey Maa, Maati, Manush!
Dinesh: Funding constraints are likely to cause slippage in the target of 1017km for Gauge Conversion for 2011-12. It is expected that 825km of gauge conversion projects will be completed
Didi may decipher: My minister is saying I left behind such a mess that the target cannot be met
Dinesh: State governments have come forward to share cost of some more projects in their states. Those include governments of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.
Didi may decipher: Dinesh has the nerve to say my beloved Bengal will get projects only if my government agrees to share the cost. He has rubbed it in by mentioning those Congress and BJP governments
Dinesh: The results of the PPP efforts of the railways have not been encouraging
Didi may decipher: Dinesh is trampling another of my pet themes: PPP (which helped me steer clear of the tricky standalone concept called “private”). Most of my proposals were yoked to PPP and he is suggesting the idea bombed
Dinesh: Over the years, railways had come to have large number of vacancies in various categories of staff, including in technical and safety-related areas. These have an adverse impact on operational and safety performance of the organisation.
Didi may decipher: Eeesh! He is actually saying I did not let people have jobs even though vacancies were there
Dinesh: I propose to rationalise the fare to cause minimal impact on the common man and to keep the burden within tolerance limits in general.
Didi may decipher: The last nail. I have made a career out of my no-hike policy and he is striking at the very root of my Sonar Bangla.
After presenting his maiden railway budget, Trivedi gave an interview to CNN-IBN, where he tried to explain the logic behind the hike. Needless to say, Mamata will not be happy with what the Trinamul railway minister said in the interview.
Dinesh: I have done what I could for the betterment of railways and India. Everybody is on board, politicians from all parties complimented me for the hike. The hike is in paisa, people can afford this hike.
Didi may decipher: Oh! He is pitting the others against me? Let me see how many will compliment him in public. He is saying hike in paisa but monthly expenses of poor families will go up by around Rs 200.
Dinesh: I have done a conscious duty as a citizen of India…. Mamata has never ever interfered with my work. I did not consult anybody but the common man. I have confidence in myself, rest I don’t bother. Bhagat Singh lost his life, losing a chair is no big deal, Mamata is not so unreasonable
Didi may decipher: He is playing the hero. And he has no qualms in borrowing the aam aadmi slogan of none other than the Congress, our principal opposition in government. Dinesh is also saying that if I sack him, I will appear unreasonable.
Dinesh: I have taken a conscious decision. I am in politics for the people. I cannot ensure safety if I do not hike the fares
Didi may decipher: He is saying I didn’t care for safety and that is why I did not raise fares
Dinesh: I didn’t want railways to go the Air India way. It’s not a political budget, it’s an economic budget
Didi may decipher: He is the big economist now? And all of us know only to present political budgets. Must tell Amit-da to teach all of them a lesson on March 23 when he presents our budget