Centre is misusing railways for political gain: Activists

HUBBALLI: Top honchos in the railways have a sked all zones, including (SWR), to distribute brochures showcasing the department‘s contributions in parliamentary constituencies. Pursuant to the direction, SWR has printed brochures for eac h parliamentary constituency which it is now in the process of distributing.

The move though has rai sed eyebrows since the brochures contain information pertaining only to the last four years. Commuters and activists claim it is mere campaign material and are accusing the Union government of misusing railways for political gain in the run-up to next year‘s Lok Sabha elections.

Kutubuddin Kazi, president, Karnataka State Railway Development Agitation Committee, told TOI that the railways is being hypocritical, “has failed to keep its promises” and is “trying to patch up its failures with colourful brochures”.

“Railways had promised to complete projects initiated by the previous government,” Kazi said. “But whenever we raise the subject of injustice to Karnataka, especially North Karnataka, railways claims that its services are nationwide and it doesn‘t do things with a specific state in mind. So, why are officials distributing Lok Sabha constituency-wise brochures now?”

Byali, president, Betgeri Railway Horata Samiti, pointed out another example of railways ignoring regional benefits. Byali revealed that when there was huge demand to divert the , which was running through , SWR officials refused saying that they preferred a convenient route rather than pleasing a particular state.

“It is a clear case of misuse of railways by the Union government,” Byali said of the brochures. “If the Union government wants to campaign for Lok Sabha constituencies, the party should publish these brochures. It‘s not fair to use officials of any department for political purposes. Had the brochures focused on SWR‘s contributions over the 15 years since its inception, one would have accepted it wholeheartedly. SWR should clarify why contributions are restricted only to the past four years.”

Byali said the brochures are all the more questionable since the Union government had sent out campaign emails to IRCTC users during the recent state assembly elections. A retired railway official said he was disappointed that the ruling party at the Centre is increasingly misusing the railways.

“The brochure is blatant campaign material for a particul ar party,” the official said. “It does not have the photograph of the railway minister, but it has a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Many sincere and apolitical officials have been helpless and have been unable to prevent such misuse by ruling parties at the Centre.”

SWR officials admitted that this is the first time ever that the railways is publishing constituency-wise brochures. “As per a direction from the Railway Board, all 17 zones are publishing these brochures,” an official said.
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