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Toying with India railway budget

Petty politics raises serious questions about the stability of government

Gulf News

A day after the railway budget was presented in the Indian Parliament, there have been calls from the Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi's own party, the Trinamool Congress, for him to quit or risk being sacked. The party has demanded that the proposed rail fare hike he presented in the House be rolled back.

What then resulted in Parliament showed how weak the government had become due to its reliance on a coalition based on regional allies. During the debates, it became increasingly unclear what the government planned to do, with confusing voices coming out during the day. Although Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee chided the government's critics for behaving like "petulant children", the opposition wondered how a government in crisis mode could govern in such a manner.

What was conveniently forgotten during the discussion was that the minister presented the Indian railway's budget and not that of a party or a group of allies. The intention was clear — to help the Railways, and the country, move forward and face the challenges that confront it, even if it meant raising the fares. Unfortunately, petty politics, which has become the order of the day, has overshadowed the budget itself, raising serious questions about the stability and governing ability of the government.