A Roy-al mess
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Railway ministry must immediately be taken away from Mukul Roy and TMC. The rest can follow
The Indian Railways has been a behemoth running on broken wheels for a long time. Under the Trinamool Congress, it has stalled. Tuesday morning's fire on the Chennai-bound Tamil Nadu Express near Nellore took a heavy toll. The overhaul of the railways is no longer just about systemic correction and reform. First of all, it demands a political change. In terms of both efficiency and safety, the railways has showcased the TMC's sheer irresponsibility and the UPA's political mismanagement. The sooner the ministry is freed from the grip of Mukul Roy and his party, the better.
Roy was imposed on the Union cabinet after TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee demanded, and got, her party colleague Dinesh Trivedi's head for presenting a bold and reformist railway budget. As MoS for railways last year, Roy had openly defied the prime minister by refusing to visit a crash site. Unsurprisingly, then, half-a-day after the Nellore fire, he was still in — where else? — Kolkata. That's where his "leader" was, too, when during her own tenure as railway minister, Mumbai's railway motormen struck work or the New Delhi station witnessed a stampede in May 2010. Banerjee had not only openly prioritised her political fight in Bengal but had also blatantly neglected her key Union portfolio. For instance, she spent 20 of the first 31 days of UPA 2 in her state.
Absentee Roy, however, is not just meekly mimicking his leader. He's gone a step further. He doesn't even have Banerjee's excuse, such as it was, of the electoral battle in Bengal — the TMC has been in power for more than a year in the state. Yet, the party has demonstrated its disinterest in matters outside its bastion except where they can be used as fodder for its populist or extractive politics. There must be an immediate end to its remote-controlled manhandling of the railways from Kolkata. The railway ministry needs the bracing oversight of a new dispensation.
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