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Now, Mamata scraps Lalu Chair

india Updated: Oct 06, 2009 01:10 IST
Srinand Jha

After upturning a number of decisions taken by her predecessor Lalu Prasad, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee has dealt another blow to the "Lalu legacy". She has scrapped the Railway Chair, set up by Prasad at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad, said news reports in Economic Times.

Prasad, as the Railways Minister, had set up the Railway Chair at IIM-Ahmedabad with the aim of generating ideas for introducing innovative practices for the Indian Railways.

"Productive ideas have not come. The chair has been scrapped, as the Railways can ill afford such wasteful expense," a ministry official was quoted as saying on September 29.

“Prima facie, the news report appears to be incorrect,” ministry spokesman Anil Kumar Saxena said. However, six days after the publication of the news report, the ministry is still to issue a denial in the matter.

Since taking charge, Banerjee is seen as systematically dismantling the “Lalu regime”.

Prasad has accused Banerjee of having stolen his ideas. "Banerjee suffers from a complex," Prasad had said.

Banerjee in turn questioned Prasad's financial turnaround story (in Railways) and had recommended a CBI inquiry in cases pertaining to alleged acquisition of land by Prasad’s kin in exchange of assurance of jobs in the Railways.

There is little conflict of interest between the two leaders. What, then, explains the antipathy?

“Confronted with ... turning politically irrelevant, Prasad's responses have not been politically correct...,” said a senior leader of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, on conditions of anonymity.

But what explains Banerjee's attitude? Is she being silently egged on by the Congress —which fancies a political revival in Bihar? Or has she been co-opted in the Bihar political struggle by Prasad’s rivals?