Taking free rides in trains at Central Government’s expense


A novel way to do a scam!


Real News Intl. (RNI) News Agency, Lucknow:

What is the best way a State Government’s minister can oblige the huge number of workers from his constituency? Particularly so when the state exchequer is somewhat empty owing to herculean promises made by their leader during election rallies! The best way is to take the workers on free train rides at Central Government’s expense.

Yes, this is exactly what not one, not two, but several ministers in Akhilesh Yadav’s cabinet in Uttar Pradesh have done this summer. And with their railway tickets already booked, the party workers, near and dear ones and people from the constituencies are getting set to travel to a location of their choice in the next couple of months. If you are really willing to call this modus operandi a scam, then the number of ministers who are involved in this scam may go up to a dozen, if not more. And the amount that the Central Government will have to pay from its coffers for ‘free travel’ of people who worked or voted for Samajwadi Party would reach a few millions.

Now, what’s the scam all about! Free railway coupons amounting to several thousand rupees are allotted to each minister. The minister, their family members (including spouse and dependent kids) can alone travel through these coupons. These free railway coupons expire on 31st of May each year and thereafter fresh coupons are issued for the next year. Since the coupons that are issued are of such high amount that it is not possible for a minister to avail all the free coupons, a lot many of them lapse at the year end.

Politicians as they are, this gave ideas to some of the ministers, who decided to arrange ‘free’ excursions on railways for their party workers, people from the constituency and near and dear ones. Week-long excursions to places like Chennai, Bangalore and Haridwar have been planned. Big lists of people interested in ‘free’ travel have been prepared. Considering the great queues that were seen during the last few days at the railway booking counters (that accept these coupons) in Lucknow, it is apparent that several of the ministers decided to repay the people from their constituencies through these ‘free’ rides on Indian Railways. Ultimately, it will be the Central Government’s Indian Railways whose coffers will be utilized for these ‘free’ tickets for SP workers.

The modus operandi is simple! Lists from constituencies have been prepared of people who are to be sent on these ‘free’ trips. Since only family members of a minister can travel on a free coupon, only first-names (and not surnames) of the people have been written on railway reservation requisition forms. Mentioning the first names only has been done to hide the caste, because a Brahmin minister may have several people from other castes from his constituency whom he wishes to oblige. Likewise, with ministers belonging to other castes! Problem comes when a Hindu minister, for instance, decides to send a Muslim worker from constituency on a free trip or a Muslim minister decides to send a Hindu party worker. RNI has learnt that a Brahmin minister dropped a few Muslim names lest his modus operandi gets leaked.

Since an individual can book only up to six passengers on one requisition form and since only one requisition form (along with return ticket) is accepted from one person at a time, several staff-persons in a minister’s office have been deputed to get the tickets booked.  And since Indian Railways announce advance reservations up to 60 days in advance, and there is already great rush in June due to summer vacations, most of the reservations have been made for the coming July. The booking of tickets has continued till 8 p.m. on 31st night or till the coupons exhaust, whichever happens earlier. Needless to say, there are several ministers whose staff-persons have made countless trips to reservation counters, during the last few days.

Real News Intl. (RNI) News Bureau