Railway budget scrapped
Putting an end to the British-era practice, the Union Cabinet recently gave its nod to merge the railway budget with the general budget from next year, following the recommendations of a two-member committee comprising Niti Aayog members Bibek Debroy and Kishore Desai. The development is significant as in recent years, particularly since coalition governments post-1996, political heavyweights have used the railway budget to hand out goodies and for their own image building. With the railway portfolio often held by regional biggies, the budget reflected political priorities of the incumbent. The railway bureaucracy has also dug in its heels in the past. Railway minister Suresh Prabhu’s readiness to give up the limelight is a break from the past as BJP seems in a position to dump the railway budget as its solid majority in Lok Sabha enabled it to retain the portfolio rather than handing it to an ally.