The presentation of the Railway Budget was a bitter sweet affair for Railway Minister DV Sadananda Gowda despite rolling out ambitious plans of bullet trains and Diamond Quadrilateral Network of High Speed Rail. This was because the Minister had to encounter slogan shouting from Opposition members occasionally, and towards the end his speech was drowned in protests.
The entire BJP and NDA side was seen cheering the first Railway Budget of the Narendra Modi government with the Prime Minister himself turning into a keen listener.
As the Budget presentation progressed, Trinamool Congress members raised slogans against the Prime Minister which was countered by the Treasury benches. Some lighter moments spiced up the presentation which began at 12.10 pm. Apparently not happy with the fast paced speech of the Minister, Saugata Roy of TMC took the opportunity when Gowda was sipping water to tell him to read slowly. But Gowda continued to be in the fast lane remarking, "I think you are all pleased by my Budget".
Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who rarely displays emotion, seemed agitated when the Minister mentioned that recent dedication of Udhampur-Katra rail link fulfilled the dream of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. She was heard saying that it was UPA's project.
"The medicine appears as bitter in the beginning, but is like nectar in the end," an unfazed Gowda said making use of adages to justify the recent rail fare hike which has come under sharp attack from the Opposition. Wearing an off-white half coat, Gowda was mostly all smiles but found it hard to make himself heard in the last five minutes of the presentation as many members from West Bengal and Kerala trooped into the Well protesting that their states have been ignored in the Budget.
Dubbing the Budget as only for the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka, TMC's Kalyan Banerjee was heard shouting, "Gujarat hai hai... Gujarat model nahi chalega".
Today's presentation was in contrast to that of interim Railway Budget presented by his predecessor Mallikarjun Kharge, now leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, in February. At that time, Kharge, who was also present in the House today, had to stop his speech mid way amid protests on Telangana issue.