The AAP on Thursday alleged non-cooperation from the Ministry of Railways over its ‘Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojana’, a scheme to enable senior citizens to undertake free pilgrimage.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Member Sanjay Singh alleged that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was not even permitted entry into a railway station to meet seniors citizen going on pilgrimage under the scheme.
“The Railways had not permitted entry to an elected chief minister at a station in Delhi who was supposed to go to meet senior citizens going on a pilgrimage,” Mr Singh alleged.
He asked Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who was present in the House, not to behave in such a way with an elected chief minister.
The Upper House was discussing the working of the Ministry of Railways.
According to Mr Singh, this was done despite repeated phone calls from him and the chief minister’s residence.
“You are trying to stop senior citizens from going to Ayodhya for pilgrimage,” he said.
“If you want to fight, then face us in elections. Why are you targeting elderly pilgrims… why are you opposing Arvind Kejriwal?” Mr Singh also accused the BJP of running away from MCD elections in the national capital.
“When we wanted to talk to you on this (elections), you neither talked to us on the phone nor replied to our messages. This behaviour is not good,” he said.
This was followed by uproar from the treasury benches, but Bhubaneshwar Kalita, who was presiding the proceedings of the House, asked the AAP parliamentarian to complete his speech on the subject of discussion.
The AAP MP asked Mr Vaishnaw to be sensitive towards senior citizens as his ministry too has announced travel concessions for them.
He also asked about the status of welfare steps for porters announced by former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Meanwhile, Abdul Wahab of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) alleged discrimination against southern states and sought a separate railway zone for Kerala.
Rupa Ganguly of the BJP raised the issue of labourers hired by contractors of Railways and suggested setting up of a portal with their information.
She further said illegal immigrants are hired by some contractors jeopardising the interests of Indian citizens.
Birendra Prasad Vaishya of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) complimented the government for a budgetary allocation of around ₹ 11,400 crore for the northeast, which is 37 per cent higher than the last budget and is an all-time record.
He requested the minister to set up a coach factory in the northeastern region and fill up around 10,000 vacant posts in the Northeast Frontier Railway, a move that will provide employment to the local people.
Jawhar Sircar of the Trinamool Congress raised the issue of alleged neglect of suburban train system by the Railways.
He said passengers of three suburban railways of Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai comprise almost half of the daily passenger traffic of the Railways yet their share in the budget is not even one per cent.
“They go in packed like animals, they hang out like birds, this kind of shameful treatment of suburban train must end. It has always been neglected and take this as a fine task,” Mr Sircar said adding Railways officials are not looking at this because of non-profitability.
He also raised questions over the National Monetisation scheme and said, “it is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” and suggested to the government to bring some transparency.
Vinay P Sahasrabudde of the BJP hailed the schemes such as Kisan Train and said this was implemented with a political will.
Participating in the discussion, Manoj Kumar Jha of the RJD stressed on filling the vacancies across various zones.
Ramdas Athawale, Minister of State for Justice and Empowerment and Republican Party of India MP sought a network of bullet trains across the country while H D Devegowda of the Janata Dal (S) asked the railway minister to look into some of the stalled projects in Karnataka.
Sakaldeep Rajbhar of the BJP sought new trains originating from Uttar Pradesh while Chaudhary Sukhram Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party demanded medical staff in superfast trains.
Kanta Kardam and Shiv Pratap Shukla of the BJP also listed the achievements of the Railways during the Covid period.