BJP’s Laxmi Kanta Chawla, travelling on Saryu-Yamuna Express, has a message for Modi & Piyush Goyal — stop thinking of bullet trains, Indian Railways.
Chandigarh: Senior BJP leader from Amritsar and former Punjab health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla has taken on her party’s bigwigs, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, over the falling standards of the Indian Railways.
Chawla issued a strongly-worded video Sunday aboard the Saryu-Yamuna Express, on which was travelling from Amritsar to Ayodhya. She told Modi and Goyal to stop thinking about starting bullet trains and instead try to run current services properly.
Visibly upset, she said when it came to the state of the railways in India, one could safely say there were no “achhe din”.
Senior @BJP4India leader from Amritsar Laxmi Kanta Chawla tells @narendramodi & @PiyushGoyal to "forget" about #bullettrain and instead focus on those already running.
She made this video aboard the Saryu-Yamuna train which was delayed by 14 hours.
Part 1 of the video: pic.twitter.com/dC0ZEyk1ge
— Chitleen K Sethi (@ChitleenKSethi) December 24, 2018
Here is part 2 of the video BJP leader @laxmi_chawla made aboard the Saryu-Yamuna train while on her way from Amritsar to Ayodhya.
" It would be better if you travel in these trains like a common man @PiyushGoyal ji, " she says. pic.twitter.com/EXOc6TkAjh
— Chitleen K Sethi (@ChitleenKSethi) December 24, 2018
Delays galore, no response from railways
Chawla’s train was delayed by nine hours to her destination, Ayodhya, and almost 14 hours late by the time it reached its final destination, Jaynagar, Bihar.
We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.
Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.
Recording the video from her berth in an AC 3-tier coach, Chawla said not only was the train late, there was no water, no facility for food, and the toilet seats were also broken.
She said she tried to find out why the train had been delayed, but did not get any response from anyone. Later, she found out that the train was diverted for some reason, where it got delayed for about three hours, and the delays just kept piling up.
Chawla also said she tried to get through to the railway authorities, using the publicised helpline numbers, but there was no response. Even emails written to the railway minister had elicited no response.
“It seems that the entire exercise of giving out information that the railways will cater to the emergency needs of its passengers through these numbers was nothing but an exercise in false publicity,” she said.
Selling seats to ticketless passengers
Apart from highlighting the abysmal condition of the train, Chawla also ‘caught’ railways employee selling seats to two passengers travelling without reservation.
She said some passengers alerted her that the travelling ticket examiner (TTE), along with some other members of the staff, were making a quick buck by providing seats to passengers travelling ticketless.
“I caught them doing it, and finally reported them to the railway authorities on my arrival. I have been told that some action has been initiated on my highlighting the corruption,” she said.
No ‘achhe din’
Chawla said on the way, she also noticed that hundreds of in-transit passengers were sleeping on the platforms as the railways had not even built waiting rooms for them. “Can you imagine their condition in this biting cold, sleeping outside in the open?” she asked.
A dyed-in-the-wool BJP politician, Chawla is known to call a spade a spade, and said false promises never led any politician anywhere.
She suggested to Railways Minister Piyush Goyal that he should travel as a common man, and figure out the problems being faced by middle-class and lower-middle class travellers. She said while the passenger experience on trains like Shatabdis and Rajdhanis had improved, it did not benefit the poor because those trains catered only to the rich.
News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.