Mamata loses cool

New Delhi: Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee lost her cool several times during her third budget presentation on Friday as she faced vociferous protests from MPs from Bihar, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh who alleged that she had ignored their states while announcing schemes for West Bengal.

Mid-way through Banerjee`s nearly 90-minute rail budget presentation in Lok Sabh, JD(U) members from Bihar interrupted her and asked her the status of the projects announced last year. A visibly angry Banerjee said, "What is this?"

During one of the numerous disruptions, she said, "Don`t shout."

JD(U) members were joined by leaders from Shiromani Akali Dal and TDP, among others, who alleged that Banerjee was preparing for the forthcoming assembly elections in West Bengal as a bulk of her schemes and projects were for the state.

While Banerjee sat down in a huff and tried to justify her plans to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi- who was seated next to her- Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal and his former deputy V Narayansamy walked to the opposition benches and tried to pacify the JD(U) members.

Some of the opposition MPs even walked into the well of the House.

The attendance in both the Treasury and Opposition benches was not as expected with several members, including Rahul Gandhi, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Congress MP Raj Babbar walking in late.

When the disruptions began, quite a few members walked out. BJP MP Rajnath Singh and Chidambaram left while Banerjee was half-way through her speech.

Led by Rahul Gandhi, Congress` young turks including Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada, Deependra Singh Hooda, Priya Dutt, Sandeep Dixit and Milind Deora sat in one corner of the House, discussing among themselves.

The Railway Budget presentation did see some light moments, which included recitation of some couplets by Banerjee.

"Hum aah bhi bharte hai to ho jaate hai badnaam, woh katl bhi karte hai to charcha nahi hoti (Even a sigh from me invites a bad name while even if they commit a murder it is not discussed)," she said.

When Banerjee was busy rattling names of new trains and projects, Speaker Meira Kumar intervened and said, "Please don`t skip the beautiful couplets you have written."

This goaded her to recite two more couplets, both on soldiers who sacrificed their life for the country.