The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:
The decision by the Union Cabinet to merge the Railway Budget with the General Budget is a unilateral step without discussion in parliament. It was parliament which was empowered to discuss railway finances and development.
The abolition of a separate railway budget is not what it is purported to be. It is a measure towards commercialization and privatization of the Indian Railways.
The Indian Railways is the largest public transportation system in the country which caters to the millions of ordinary people. This public service carrier cannot be seen purely on commercial lines.
The railway budget being presented in parliament provided the opportunity for parliamentary scrutiny and approval of its finances, expenditure and a debate on its plans for expansion. This will now be curtailed with its abolition.
The move to merge the Railway Budget and Union Budget is in tune with the recommendations of the Bibek Debroye Committee which has set out a blueprint for the commercialization and privatization of the Indian Railways.
For the people what this portends is a steep rise in railway fares and a growing divide towards elite services and poor facilities for the ordinary passengers.