Rail accident – A non-functioning Railway Minister

The assignment of the Railway Minister in India has been a political post for quite some time. The Railways is a huge provider of support, in the form of the number of people it employs, the amount of purchasing it does, the amount of material it carries, and of course, carrying people all over the country. Further, deciding on the number of trains that a particular state has, as well as the location of new establishments that the Railways setups (train manufacturing facilities, training institutes, etc) gives immense power to a minister to gain public support. As a result, the post of the Railways Minister has been one that has been sought after by a number of people in the past. Most of them have been from the Eastern side of the country, with Laloo Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar from Bihar, and Mamta Banerjee from West Bengal. Apart from the time of Nitish Kumar, when he was considered to have set in process a system of reform, the other 2 ministers are remembered for increasing the number of trains to their home states. When Laloo Prasad Yadav was the minister, he was projected to have turned over the railways and made huge revenue, but when Mamta Banerjee became the next minister, she revealed how Laloo Prasad Yadav had actually fudged a lot of figures and that the profit he had shown was ephemeral, not something that was sustainable.

Mamta Banerjee is seen to have explicitly sought out the Railways Minister since she was in the hunt for the forthcoming elections in West Bengal, and the amount of goodwill that she could earn by catering to the interests of the people of West Bengal was immense. During the time that she was the minister, she was also busy in fighting the Communists in West Bengal, and spent a fair amount of time in the region rather than in the ministry office in New Delhi. News reports from that time claimed that officials had to carry files to her and she would then sign them, but otherwise, many important decisions were deferred. As recent articles have stated, there are a large number of vacancies in the railways, specially in the region of staff for operations, and for safety. In addition, the number of trains that have been introduced on certain routes connecting West Bengal / Bihar with the capital and other regions in North India have led to capacity problems on the track. Programs to increase the number of tracks were not taken up, and in between Mamta had come out with the policy that the Railways would not acquire land as part of the normal process for expansion of capacity. What this meant was that if people opposed the acquisition of land, then the Railways would not acquire the land – capacity expansion is not possible in such a case.
The recent crash in Uttar Pradesh that has killed 60+ people is still under investigation, but there are problems in the political run ministry. The ministry is with the Prime Minister after the departure of Mamta, while Mamta wants it for a party member; further, the current Minister of State for Railways (from Mamta’s party) was shifted out of the ministry just a couple of days after the accident, and it was clear that he was no longer interested in the Railways (he wanted to become the Cabinet Minister, but this was not on the cards). Now, a new minister from the TC is the Cabinet Railways Minister, but whether there will be some direction making, some investigations about the level of safety and investments required, is all not known right now. One can only happy that such an important ministry is looked after more carefully.

2 comments to Rail accident – A non-functioning Railway Minister

  • I just have to say is that we need a serious and honest railway minister.

  • peace

    since India do not have good infrastructure,like roads(transportation). 70% of the population depends on a railway system.so a good railway minister like CEO of infosys or ratan tata who has experience to run a company.should be recruited for the job. also has enough and not trying to fill up their pockets. India should try different system to see which really works.I think polticians should be shot if they fail to achieve their goal.Why should indian people has deal with corrupted government.Politicians do not have fear of loosing they get away with murder. there is no justice system in the country.full of corruption and no laws,no lawyers,no judges,no courts.aweful place.sickening country,

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