New Delhi (JPN/Bureau):  Coalition politics has not only derailed development momentum for Railways, it has also created regional imbalance. Railways Minister belonging to allied parties usually don’t pay attention to the ministry’s long term reform.

With their vision and thinking limited to only their party and state, these ministers announce popular measures in Railway Budget that usually lands the ministry in trouble which nags it for long durations.

Past decade was that of coalition governments where in the Railways was handed over to regional political satraps rather than to any mainstream political party. Leaders of these parties have their own needs which result in the ministry getting oriented towards their state. Ram Vilas Paswan, Lalu Prasad and Mamata Banerjee are examples of this trend.

Nitish Kumar was the only Railways Minister who actually tried to tackle the basic problems of the ministry even in the era of coalition politics.

It is not that Railways have not been used to cater to regional politics before, but coalition complications have turned it into a major problem. Whenever a new Cabinet is sworn-in or there is a reshuffle, allied parties are seen scrambling for this ministry. As soon as a regional party lands the ministry, Railways’ aim of national welfare is eclipsed by their own agendas.

Having two Minister of State in Railways also serves similar aims of having as many regional representatives as possible because it was generally controlled by leaders from north India after Independence. Thus we had Ram Naik, Bangaru Laxman, R Velu, Naranbhai J.Rathwa, E Ahmed etc serve as MoS. All they did while in office was introduce new trains, tracks, reservation centers in their respective areas.

An overpowering regional approach has resulted in a lack of railway services in some parts of the countries, at the same time making some areas dense in these facilities. Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and North Eastern states face shortage of railway services because these areas could not have their representatives in the ministry.

On the other hand, states like West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are rich in railways as they have repeatedly won representation in the ministry.