The Railway budget presented by Mamata is meant to win votes. First of all, Mamata wants to establish her party strongly in her own state of West Bengal. Secondly, she wants the Congress to come to power again. This much is obvious from the sops she has given to various states in her third Railway Budget. And all the three times Mamata spared the passengers of any fare hike.
Is it the fare hike that the railway passengers fear in India? As an annual passenger and a keen observer of the Indian Railways, I think the safety of the passengers is more important than the fares. Mamata has named her party Tinamool which means grassroots. Is she really aware of the meaning of the word ‘grassroots’? It seems she thinks ‘grassroots’ means playing to the gallery. And the present gallery in India is the rising middle class. Mamata has presented a budget to please that class.
The chief problem that is plaguing the Indian Railways today is corruption at all levels. You cannot get a ticket through the proper channels. There are too many agents – authorised and unauthorised. Worse, you don’t need a ticket at all if you are travelling in certain areas of India. There are certain trains which are particularly targeted by thieves with the support of the Railway officers. Why does Mamata fight shy of dealing with such problems?
Is Mamata running a system or playing politics?
How many Indians give up a plan to visit their hometown just because they cannot bear the extortion and filth dished out by the Indian Railways? Quite many if you leave out a few states in India. Lalu Yadav with all his histrionics managed the Railways far better. Lalu knew how to sell through advertisements and make up for the sops he gave in the budget. He sold through advertisements and gave us, passengers, certain basic facilities. Mamata has too big an ego, the typical Bengali ego, which knows only how to aggrandise itself. Who benefits in the end? Only Mamata and her ironically named Trinamool Party.
Mamata di, we are ready to pay a few more rupees provided you can give us a safe journey by your Railway system. Don’t bluff us with so many promises which you seldom keep. You may win the next elections with all these hoodwinking ploys. Do you want to give us a good system? Give us security and cleanliness in the trains. Take action against ticketless travellers and ensure the economic part of the Railways. Provide more trains where they are really required, not just for your state or the states where elections will be held in the next few months.
My last journey by the Indian Railways: A Train Journey