New Delhi :
With Railway budget scheduled to be placed on February 25, RJD President and former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad today criticised the BJP government at the Centre for pushing it to “serious crisis”.
Prasad, who served as Railway minister in the UPA I government, in his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted two “recent flawed policy moves of Railways”.
“The decision to recklessly increase financial leverage manifold by signing MOUs for borrowing of USD 40 Billion from institutions like LIC and JICA, that too for un-remunerative and cash guzzling projects like Bullet train is likely to prove suicidal, particularly when Railways is not generating enough cash to meet its operating expenses,” he said.
“Secondly, Railways has set up many committees whose denominator focused prescriptions of cost cutting, unbundling and privatisation is playing havoc with the already low morale of Railways employees. It is fuelling all kinds of scare mongering about job losses and the very future of Railways as a government entity,” Prasad said.
Such speculation should be nipped in the bud as “Railways is a web of life that weaves people and markets into a diverse yet unified India,” Prasad added.
Likening Railways to a “Jersey cow”, a breed of dairy cattle, he said it was not in good health at present. “Your (Modi’s) government has neither milked nor taken good care of it. It has fallen sick.
“If your government does course correction by reversing anti-poor and employee unfriendly policies, the Jersey cow (Railways) can be restored to sound health and start giving plentiful milk (returns),” he said.
As corrective measures to come out of financial morass, Prasad said it would require unwavering commitment of the top leadership in monitoring of trains, the core operating performance, “rather than monitoring twitter.”
“Leadership has to act here and now, not in TV studios and seminars, but in FOIS control room and marketing and investment strategy sessions,” he said in his letter and added it has to play a catalytic role in galvanising its internal strengths by balancing commercial objectives with its social obligations.