M Mallikurjan Kharge was appointed as the new railways minister – the seventh person to take charge of the portfolio in the last four years.
“It has been a jinxed period. None of the railways ministers in past four years have been able to focus on the tasks at hand”, a senior ministry official said.
Kharge — who headed the labour ministry — has evidently been compensated with the railways portfolio after being denied the chance to become the Karnataka chief minister.
The biggest challenge before the new minister will be to set the house in order by undertaking organisational reforms.
Modernisation and infrastructure expansion plans in the railways have been on the back-burner because of the political turmoil in the Rail Bhawan in past years.
In the run-up to the 2014 general elections, Kharge can also be expected to take a call on several pending big-ticket projects including the construction of the Mumbai high speed corridor.
In the past months, the railways have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Dinesh Trivedi had to step down after he earned his party chief Mamata Banerjee’s wrath for having decided to raise passenger fares.
Even more unceremoniously, Pawan Kumar Bansal had to resign after his nephew Vijay Singla was found to be involved in a cash-for-promotion scandal.