Friday, May 29, 2009

The 'Lalu Effect' on Indian Railways

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

As Mahmohan Singh's team takes charge and the country rejoices voting a stable government at the centre Lalu Prasad Yadav has turned out to be the biggest casualty in this ekection. His dwindling away from the Congress just before the elections not only cost him dear in Bihar but it also meant that India's most successful Railway Minister would not be getting back his ministry which he truly deserved.

Yesterday I got a proof of the Lalu Effect on Indian Railways. I got a email saying “Thank you for using IRCTC's online rail ticket booking services. From 1st April’09 Railway has revised the passenger fares. As you have booked tickets prior to 1st-April’09 an amount of Rs.32 towards the difference of fare for the ticket booked vide PNR No XXXXXXX has been issued to electronic payment gateway on 01-Apr-2009. Same shall appear in your account within three to four working days. You are requested to please check with concerned bank regarding the same. We regret the delay if any, in crediting back the refunds. We solicit your continued patronage to our services”

I had long ago booked the tickets and even forgotten about the adjustments but the Lalu Effect chased me to refund my money. Critics would say what about the lakhs of people who book tickets in the counters how will they get back their refund. But the question ho many of us fill our proper contact details in the form while booking tickets. Even if the Railways wants to refund money through post it won't be due to the lack of proper address for correspondence.

Anybody who has travelled in a short distance or a long distance train in pre and post Lalu era will swear by the performance of the Bihar strongman. Lalu had done the unthinkable reduced fares but at the same time increased efficiency of the Indian Railways. He brought the poor railway porters under the payrolls of the Indian Railways but at the same time showed profits year after year during his entire five years tenure.

What was certainly a sure ministry for Lalu had he not committed a political blunder has been taken over by a uncertain Mamata Baneejee. She had almost made the Railways bankrupt during her previous tenure at the Rail Bhavan and this time too top railway officials are worried. Lalu not getting the ministry after such a wonderful performance is a shame on Indian Democracy.

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam had once said political parties have to strike a balance between 'Party Politics' and 'Developmental Politics'. In this case Party Politics has won over Developmental Politics. True Lalu may have backstabbed the Congress during the elections but the Congress is backstabbing the Indian Railways by not giving its charge to a performing candidate. Can Dr Mahmohan Singh hold his heart and say performance is the mantra for his government when a Lalu is dropped and a Vilasrao Deshmukh is brought in?

Life has turned a full circle in the life of Lalu Prasad Yadav who has lost the confidence of the people as well as his political peers. Its ironical that when he had turned Bihar into Jungle Raj he was being voted in turn after turn but when he delivered he was left alone in the wild. Well is this the reward that Lalu deserved for his performance? Is performance the criteria for allotting ministries in this democracy that we are so proud of?

1 comments:

Reetasri May 30, 2009 at 6:02 PM  

true....for a change a person like Lalu deserved to hold a ministry and as fate has it, he does not!!! after a previous terrible tenure of Mamata how did she manage to get d same portfolio again????

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