Harhari Prasad Yadav, a distant relative of former railway minister Lalu Prasad, insists on buying a ticket before boarding the Phulwaria-Hajipur passenger train every day.
The Phulwaria railway station looks grand, with shiny benches and glassed-in counters, something its villagers are proud of. Spacious and clean, it can even rouse the envy of Patna residents.
Phulwaria, in northwestern Bihar’s Gopalganj district, is Lalu Prasad’s native village.
Gopalganj, which goes to the polls on October 28, remembers the RJD chief for the trains and tracks he set up. And that’s enough for many to stand by his candidates now.
“(Railway minister) Mamata Banerjee can do anything, now that Laluji is not in charge,” Harhari Yadav said, explaining the care he and other villagers take to follow railway rules. “She could do away with the train on the mere excuse that the station does not earn much revenue. And Phulwaria would like to deny her that opportunity.”
It was different earlier. Ticket or not, anyone from Phulwaria could travel on the train at will. The mere mention of the village’s name and the travelling ticket examiner would look the other way. Other officials, too, react in similar fashion.
But today, there may be compelling reasons to downscale Phulwaria station’s status to that of a mere ‘halt’: it is a low revenue-earner, it is located in the interiors of Goplaganj — Lalu’s native village has relatively few passengers to justify the station’s existence. And above all, there is no freight to be had.
But any attempt to change the station’s status could raise Lalu’s hackles.
But railway officials denied any move to do away with the station. “On the contrary, the tracks are being converted into broad gauge between Thawe and Bhatni, a distance of some 50 km,” a railway official said.