BJP veteran Laxmi Kanta Chawla takes a jab at Modi over train delay

Former Punjab Minister and Senior BJP leader from Amritsar, 77-year-old Laxmi Kanta Chawla was overcome with anger when her train from Amritsar to Ayodhya was delayed beyond 10 hours. She told PM Modi to “forget about the bullet train” and focus on existing problems instead.

Laxmi kanta Chawla
Amritsar: Former Punjab Minister and Senior BJP leader from Amritsar, 77-year-old Laxmi Kanta Chawla is known for her no holds barred demeanour. She is known to speak her mind and not shy away from sparring bouts. PM Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal recently earned her ire when the train she was travelling by was delayed for more than 10 hours. She asked the PM Modi to forget about the bullet train and focus on the condition of existing railways.
In a video that went viral on Wednesday, Chawla is seen aboard a train, appealing to the Modi government to “have mercy on the common man”. “I am on board the Saryu Yamuna Express for 24 plus eight hours. This train is running nine hours behind schedule. For God’s sake, forget about bullet train, focus on the trains that are already running,” she said in the video.

Chawla was travelling from Amritsar to Ayodhya in the AC 3 coach of the Saryu Yamuna Express.
“Modiji, the public is distressed. Whose achche din (good times) have come, we don’t know. But most certainly, achche din have not come for the common man, for the poor and the unemployed. I have myself seen engineering diploma holder youth doing menial jobs. What have you given them?” she added.
She also took on Goyal, saying the claims of arranging milk for babies and doctors to attend to the sick travelling on trains if they just tweet their needs seemed to be a “publicity stunt”.
“We have been dialling railway helplines 138 and 139 and sending you (Goyal) emails but there is no one out there to listen to our woes. There is no food on this train, the seats are broken, toilet seats are dirty and doors have to be opened with a lot of difficulties,” she said.
She asked the Railway Minister to travel like a commoner in the train to observe the hardships himself.
“What if Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains are good? These are for rich people. What about trains like this one in which the labourers, farmers, soldiers and their families travel? Hundreds are sleeping in the open at railway stations in this bitter cold for want of waiting rooms,” she said.
“Andher nagri, chopat raja,” Chawla said.
This video by the former Punjab minister who held the health portfolio and then the social welfare portfolio has rankled the state BJP leaders in Punjab and exposed the faltering unity within the party ranks.
The state unit of the party has been busy organising a rally in Gurdaspur on January 3 to be addressed by the Prime Minister and were taken by surprise with the video.

A senior party leader said it was unfortunate that Chawla spoke out at a time when the BJP cadre was looking forward to the PMs visit with a hope that it would infuse fresh vigour in the party for the 2019 general elections. “One the one hand Chawla’s name is being considered for appointment as a Governor and on the other, she is attacking the government at the highest level. Had her intentions been restricted towards train delays she would have restricted her comments to the railway minister, Piyush Goyal. However, the very fact that she has targetted the PM shows that her aim was to upset the party leadership’s applecart in the state,” he said in a report by The Indian Express.
Lakshmi Kanta Chawla has served as health minister and later as social security, women and child development minister in the SAD-BJP government’s tenure from 2007 to 2012. A three-time legislator, Chawla has won twice from Amritsar West seat in 1992 and 1997 before moving on to Amritsar Central in 2002 when she lost. She won that seat in 2007 but later moved away from active politics after her term was over.



Related Articles