Taking a dig on BJP’s long overdue promise of “Acche Din”, senior BJP leader from Amritsar and former Punjab health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, over the deteriorating condition of the Indian Railways. The BJP leader who was travelling from Amritsar to Ayodhya posted a video online, shared by The Print’s journalist Chitleen K Sethi, saying that there is no “Acche Din” for Indian Railways. Soon after her comments, Punjab BJP head Shwait Malik defended the party saying that after the Modi government came to power, a lot has been done to improve the condition of Amritsar railway station.
According to The Indian Express, on December 22, Chawla, during her journey, on the Saryu-Yamuna Express from Amritsar to Ayodhya recorded a strongly-worded video message, in which she flagged the poor condition of the Indian railways. In the video, she complained about the nine-hour delay of her train, about the inadequate toilet facilities and lambasted about ticket examiners illegally selling seats to passengers at higher prices.
Chawla, who is known for being outspoken, in a viral video seen saying that the government must forget bullet train for now and should focus on the conditions of currently running trains.
“My only appeal to the government and PM Modi is, please take pity on us common people. The trains are so broken down… We have suffered so much difficulty in the past 24 hours, the train changed direction and is running late, but no one is giving us any information. There is no food arrangement for people spending extra 10 hours on the train.
Forget about trains that run at 120 km or 200 km per hour. People are on the footpath, there is no waiting room and people are sleeping in the open in such biting cold – Piyush Goyal ji and Modi ji”
Poor condition of Indian Railways
The former BJP minister, Chawla was travelling in an AC 3-tier coach of Saryu-Yamuna Express. According to her, the train was delayed by nine hours and by the time it reached its final destination – Jayanagar, Bihar the train was delayed by 14 hours. Chawla complained that there was no water in the train, no facility for food, and even the toilet seats were broken.
Further, she tried to inquire about the reason for the train delay, but she did not get any response then. However, she later found out that the train delay was because of train’s diverted route. The route diversion caused a delay of three hours which kept pilling up.
Angry and furious Chawla also tried to reach out to the railway authorities, using the helpline numbers, and through emails, but at that time there was no response. She said, “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.”
In the video, she also asked the railway authorities to travel like an ordinary passenger to get a real picture of the railways. It was only after her video went viral she was contacted by some officials.
Apart from the highlighting the pathetic conditions on the train she also pointed out that the ticket examiners on the train are selling tickets to the passengers at exorbitant prices. According to her, some passengers informed her that the travelling ticket examiner (TTE), along with some other members of the staff, were selling train tickets on a higher price to the passengers travelling ticketless.
Another Amritsar BJP leader, Rakesh Sharma, who was travelling on the same train with Chawla said that their journey on the train was a nightmare.
BJP MP to the rescue
Meanwhile, BJP head Shwait Malik, who is a Rajya Sabha MP, said that under Prime Minister Modi Amritsar station has undergone a lot of development which the previous government was not able to do. He said that the Modi government has spent some Rs 200 crore on Amritsar railways alone.
He said that no new platform had been added to the Amritsar station after Independence, but the Modi government has constructed lifts at Amritsar railway station along with two new platforms.
He added, “We have provided free water and WiFi at the station. We have constructed new railway overbridge in Amritsar. The list is long.” While criticising the Congress government, he said that the party has done “such damage to the system that it takes time to recover”.
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