Railways with Congress after 16 years

Suresh Kalmadi

After almost one-and-a-half decade, the key Railway Ministry is back with Congress with Pawan Kumar Bansal becoming the cabinet minister and both the MoS portfolios going to the party.

Congress MPs from West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh - Adhir Ranjan Choudhary and Kotla Jaya Suryaprakash Reddy - were given railway portfolio as Ministers of State in today's reshuffle.

Road Transport Minister CP Joshi was holding the Railway portfolio as additional charge after the resignation of TMC leader Mukul Roy.

"The priority is to improve the health of the ministry both physical and financial," Bansal said after being given the responsibility of crucial infrastructure ministry.

He said the task of improving the financial health is a larger exercise. "It has to be a larger exercise. It does not have to confine to just increasing fares or freight...that is not only or what the physical or financial health will depend upon," Bansal said.

The last Congress Minister in Railways was Suresh Kalmadi in 1996 during the Narasimha Rao government.

Bansal, who was earlier Water Resources and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, said, "We have to look into many aspects to see if we can cut on expenditures, where we can utilise the resources properly and if necessary how to go about the fare, with the larger objectives of providing services to the people."

There were three Railway Ministers from TMC - Mamata Banerjee, Dinesh Trivedi and Mulkul Roy - during the last three years in the UPA-II regime.

Railway Ministry was with RJD leader Lalu Prasad during 2004-09 period.

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