Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off poll-bound Rajasthan’s first Vande Bharat express on Wednesday.
While launching the train between Ajmer and Delhi Cantonment through video conferencing, the Prime Minister lamented that “an important and basic need of the citizens like railways was turned into an arena of politics for a long time”.
PM Modi said, “India inherited a fairly big railway network at the time of Independence, but political interest dominated the need for modernisation in the years after independence”.
“Politics was evident in the selection of railway minister, announcement of trains and even in recruitments. Land acquisition was done under the false pretense of railway jobs and many unmanned crossings continued for a very long time and cleanliness and safety took a back seat, ” he said while alluding to the land for job scam, in which former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family members are being probed.
“The situation took a turn for the better after 2014 when people elected a stable government with full majority, when the pressure of political give and take receded, railway heaved a sigh of relief and sprinted to new heights, ” Modi said.
This is the sixth Vande Bharat train in the last two months to have been flagged off by the Prime Minister.
Incidentally, all the three trains –Ajmer-Delhi Cantonment Vande Bharat express, Rani Kamlapati-Hazrat Nizammuddin Vande Bharat express and Secunderabad-Tirupati Vande Bharat express — cater to the needs of three poll-bound states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana respectively.
All the three states are scheduled to witness Assembly elections later this year.
Meanwhile, Modi remarked that the railway budget for Rajasthan has been increased 14 times since 2014, from Rs 700 crore in 2014 to more than Rs 9, 500 crore this year.
Addressing the gathering, Modi congratulated the land of valour Rajasthan for getting its first Vande Bharat Train, which he said, will not only ease the travel between Jaipur Delhi but will also give a push to the tourism industry of Rajasthan, as it will facilitate faster access to places of faith like Theerthraj Pushkar and Ajmer Sharif.