Private trains: Rahul Gandhi accuses govt of snatching away lifeline of poor

People will give a befitting reply to govt, he says

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused the Union government of ‘snatching away the lifeline of the poor’ by announcing plans to allow private players to run passenger trains.

File Photo | Photo Credit: PTI

The people of the country would give a befitting reply to the government, he said.

“Railways is the only lifeline of the poor and the government is taking it away from them. Snatch whatever you want. But do remember that the people of the country will give a befitting reply to this,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.

On Wednesday, the railways formally announced plans to allow private entities to operate passenger trains by inviting request for qualifications (RFQ) for participation on 109 pairs of routes through 151 modern trains.

Singhvi’s poser

At an official Congress briefing, Rajya Sabha member Abhishek Singhvi not only questioned the move but also its timing.

“Does common sense tell everybody that the best time to get to the bids for individual lines is bang in the middle of corona? So are you squandering state largesse and throwing away valuable Indian resources by picking a time of this kind, it is absolutely mind-boggling why this time has been chosen” he said.

Describing the railways as the seventh largest employer in the world, Mr. Singhvi said the move had serious implications for 1.5 core employees, movement of cargo and common passengers.

“Why this mad rushing hurry? Could you not have waited to at least convene Parliament? I have said earlier and I am repeating, you should pass a parliamentary law. We could have had virtual Parliament,” he said.

Though the government had not used the word privatisation but as public-private partnership (PPP), the move amounted to privatising the railways, he added.