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Rail Ministers Down The Ages

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As yet another Rail budget is set to be unveiled, Railways has seen several former Ministers like Suresh Kalmadi and Dinesh Trivedi getting derailed after remaining at the helm.

A quick look at the fortunes of the Railway Ministers for the past 25 years show that barring Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar, the political career of most of them has not been all that rosy after being in the driver's seat. The Rail budget is due tbe presented by P K Bansal tomorrow.

Kalmadi, who was the last Congress Railway Minister some 16 years back, is facing the heat in the wake of alleged irregularities in the organisation of Commonwealth Games and had been in Tihar Jail for sometime.

Dinesh Trivedi's case was an episode which stunned one and all.

Trivedi, who presented the last Railway Budget, lost his job in a matter of days despite his exercise coming in for rave review in the Congress, leading the UPA coalition.

The fare hike effected by him earned the wrath of his party chief Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who soon airdashed to Delhi to ensure his immediate exit.

Mukul Roy, a trusted lieutenant of Banerjee, who was brought in place of Trivedi, could last just a few months as the TMC parted ways with the UPA and all its Ministers tendering their resignation.

Lalu Prasad, who was the Railway Minister in the UPA-I, saw his political career derail as he dumped Congress in the last Lok Sabha polls along with Lok Janshakti leader Ram Vilas Paswan, also a former Railway Minister, and contested seperately.

From the second largest constituent in UPA-I, Lalu's RJD was reduced to just four members in the new House as against 25-odd MPs in the previous Lok Sabha.

Paswan had the shock of his life as he suffered humiliating defeat from his pocketborough of Hajipur in Bihar with veteran Ram Sunder Das of the Nitish Kumar-led JD-U trouncing him.

92-year old Das is the oldest member of the current Lok Sabha.

After being out of Parliament for few years, Paswan has now become a member of the Rajya Sabha, thanks to support extended by Lalu Prasad. Paswan was Railway Minister in the United Front government in 1996-98.

Congress veteran C K Jaffer Sharief, who was the Cabinet Minister for most part of the P V Narasimha Rao tenure from 1991-96 and is credited with ushering in the unigauge system in the Railways, has seen marginalised in the party for the past decade.

Sharief was only recently acquitted by the Supreme Court in a CBI case launched against him.

George Fernandes, who was at the helm of Railways during the V P Singh Government in 1989-90, is unwell.

A JD-U member of the Rajya Sabha, Fernandes has been away from Parliament for quite sometime.

Congress leader and Union Minister C P Joshi's joy last year after getting the additional charge of Railways, was shortlived.

In the last Cabinet reshuffle, Bansal was brought in as full-fledged Railway Minister with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh determined to bring the long delayed reforms in the Railways to bring it on track at a time when the buzz word is infrastructure development for faster growth.