Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's promise to provide government jobs to individuals affected by land acquisition for railways projects has not only opened up a Pandora's Box, but also put on hold the final inauguration of the rail coach factory at Congress President Sonia Gandhi's constituency at Rae Bareilly.
Eighteen coaches have been ready for commercial rollout at the factory, but fear of sparking off demands for government jobs from the land losers have been repeatedly putting off the inauguration dates.
Requests for Gandhi's presence at Rae Bareilly have remained pending in past months. The Congress President has been advised against undertaking the visit to Rae Bareilly at this juncture, sources said.
During Banerjee's term as the railways minister, the railways announced its commitment to provide railways jobs to one member of each family that had surrendered land for the projects undertaken by the public transporter.
The guidelines do not technically apply to the Rae Bareilly coach factory, as the 2010 rules provide that "these would not apply in those cases where the land acquisition process has been concluded by way of possession of land by the railways".
"Even so, in these turbulent political times, the Congress president is disinclined to take the risk of inaugurating the factory at this juncture", sources said.
Even as railway Board officials have been struggling over the modalities of implementing the 2010 policy, the issue has raised the hackles of other ministries and departments including the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the finance ministry.
Worried that the job-for-land policy might spark off similar demands from land losers in other government departments, NHAI and finance ministry officials have been persuading the railways to withdraw the order, sources said.
Chairman, railway board Vinay Mittal attempted to hammer out the procedures for implementing the 2010 policy at a meeting with senior officials of the Kolkata-based eastern railways on Tuesday.
Two lakh claimants for railways jobs have piled up in the single state of West Bengal.
While Banerjee's job-for-land policy has created complications, her predecessor Lalu Prasad had worked at the other extreme by bringing out an ordinance empowering the railways to directly acquire land from farmers for public projects.
During Prasad's term, the railways had acquired 1100 acres for the rail coach factory at Madhepura in Bihar, although the factory was proposed to be built in just an area of 230 acres.