F R Chowdhury:


After reading the title of the article, most readers will know what it is all about. The wife of the Railway Minister was travelling in a particular train. She was in an A/C (air-conditioned) compartment. There were three others in that compartment. They were supposed to be her cousin and nephews. They had no tickets. The TT (travelling ticket-checker) asked for their tickets and in return came to know about their identity. The TT compelled them to pay for cheapest class of travel and advised them to travel in economy class. The minister’s wife rang up some very senior officer of the railway and the TT was immediately suspended from his job.

The matter could have been buried quietly if the minister had apologized for the incident and the TT was re-instated to his position. But it was not to be so because the minister also initially considered himself humiliated by an ordinary TT. So, the TT had to be taught a lesson. But by then the incident received headlines in national newspapers. We are after all a democratic state, (at least on paper), and the news item caused serious damage to the minister. At this stage the minister could resign and save the party and the government from any blame.

The minister’s statement that he was not aware of what his wife did and that he should not be held responsible for his wife’s action. Do we have to teach the minister that he remains responsible if his wife misuses power of being the minister’s wife? The minister has to be a role model for others. The present political culture must change. Now I shall narrate a different story.

Many years ago, somewhere in South India, the station master observed an old lady sitting in the platform for quite some time; and finally out of curiosity asked the lady where she intended to go. The lady said that she was waiting for the Delhi train. The station master asked if she already bought any ticket and the lady showed a first class ticket for Delhi. The station master asked some more questions and realized that he was talking to the mother of Lal Bahadur Shastri, union minister for railways. Things changed immediately as a special saloon was attached to the train with attendant to carry minister’s mother. The station master was later called to Delhi only to be advised by the minister not to do any such thing in future.

London, May 9, 2022     [email protected]