Lalu Prasad’s blog - or railway complaint box?

June 13th, 2008 - 6:07 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) Railways Minister Lalu Prasad’s blog is sure attracting attention, but it appears to look more and more like a railway complaint box. To his latest post on inflation June 9, Lalu Prasad’s blog ( received 68 responses. Although the minister blogged his views on inflation and the Gujjar violence in Rajasthan, the responses have so far have had nothing to do with them.

Instead, the blog has turned to be a platform for people to air complaints about railway services - be it the food quality, cleanliness or security. There are also requests for trains on new routes.

In his latest blog, the railway minister has described as “inevitable” though “unfortunate” the soaring prices of essential commodities - the most worrying point for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

The minister, who is widely credited with transforming the economic fortunes of the railways, said that Indian trains continue to provide affordable means of travelling for the common man.

“Though the operating cost of the Indian Railways has gone up, we have not raised rail fares, on the contrary, we slashed the rates,” says the blog post.

He has some advises for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government too.

Interspersed with a lot of “should” concerning implementation of government schemes, such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREG) and Public Distribution Scheme (PDS) to mitigate the problems of the common man, the railway minister nevertheless adds that the “poor man knows how to sustain himself in the backdrop of price rise”.

While some like Shashank Trivedi agreed with Lalu Prasad on the fuel price hike, most others took the railway minister’s blog as a platform to express their woes.

Kumar Kartveerjeet Sharav wants improved train services from New Delhi to Bihar and Jharkhand. A.K. Sahu seeks new trains in western Orissa. Avinash Kumar Choubey is upset over delays.

Bankim Parikh uses the space to narrate his family’s nightmarish experience at the Jammu railway station.

“Our train was 11 hours delayed. The station was horribly crowded but to our surprise I could see only one porter. The security person did not allow the passengers to drag their heavy baggage on the wheels over the ramp, but forced them to lift them up all the way over the 30 odd stairs. Can you look into the situation?” Parikh asks.

The text of the blog can also be read and responded to in Hindi. To his first blog post, which was on the Gujjar violence and the effect it had on the railways, the minister received 281 comments, many in Hindi.

The minister has blamed Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje for the Gujjar protests during which Indian Railways lost at least Rs.5 million a day.

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