It has just been three days of the budget session of the Parliament and there has not been a single peaceful debate. Though the parliament functioning in a civilised manner with informed debate is rather an anomaly in India, but what is important to note here is that both on Tuesday and Wednesday, the house was brought to a stall majorly by Trinamool Congress (TMC) members.
The railway budget released on Tuesday was along the expected lines and did not offer any news other than rolling out a clear path for more privatisation and foreign direct investment (FDI). Railway fare had been hiked, quite a cowardly act on the part of BJP, though, just before the budget session began and so the budget had no surprises for commuters either.
So what is the TMC so angry about? First, of course, it has brought up the price rise issue, which though perhaps essential considering the degraded condition of the railways, will be challenged by any opposition party at any point of time.
But the grievances also lie in the fact that among the new trains announced in the budget, West Bengal has got almost nothing. It has got one new premier and one new express train. Mamata Banerjee, after the budget, had taken to Twitter, saying West Bengal had never been so deprived and humiliated. She said she would return the train given to her and asked, "Are we beggars?"
But let's be fair to Gowda, who made it clear that announcing new projects was not on his agenda, as he would focus on the past projects to be completed. Now, Banerjee has served as a railway minister twice and her party held the post for even longer after she became chief minister of West Bengal, until her party pulled out of the UPA government. She has been known to be more indulgent towards her own state, often announcing more railway infrastructure projects for her own state.
Now Gowda is claiming these projects have been lying incomplete, and he would rather expedite them than announce several more just to get momentary applause form the parliament. Banerjee can stop crying over the low number of new trains allocated to Bengal and finish the projects that will benefit her state.
Then what is the furore in the parliament about? In a parliament that has not yet decided on the leader of opposition, the TMC might be making its stand clear how it could be a prominent opposition for a government that has astounding majority in the House. It might be not about the budget after all, and about making its own might known from the beginning. It might be a message to the Congress that it will not let it just lead the opposition and play second fiddle to it.
And how do we see the BJP's explanation that Bengal must not cry over the low allocation and concentrate on finishing the older projects? Perhaps not something the BJP is serious about itself. The government has hardly allocated any money to the ongoing projects in West Bengal, including the indoor stadium in Behala, nursing college in Malda, auditorium in New Kolaghat, multi-specialty hospital in Belur, and the factory to manufacture coaches in Adra which required Rs 184 crore. Even the factory to manufacture wagons in Kharagpur requires Rs 102 crore which has also seen no allocation.
The overhaul of Chittarajan locomotive, making of New Coochbehar signal unit, coach factory in Kachrapara, axle factory in New Jalpaiguri, and car-shed in Tullygunj have all seen allocations ranging between a pitiful Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore.
In such a situation the intentions of the BJP are somewhat clear. Their promise of first finishing older projects seems like rhetoric. Or is it political war between the two parties, where the BJP is keen to show the TMC its position by raging all out war on it from the beginning?