RJD hires 35 trains, paints Patna green
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has hired 35 trains and its supporters have literally painted Patna green ahead of their party chief and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad's rally in Patna on Sunday.
The railway minister has booked 35 special trains to ferry supporters to Patna for his rally.
RJD leader Shakeel Ahmed Khan said his party was paying Indian Railways for the special trains. "The railways will earn a hefty amount from running these special trains. It is not free of cost," he held.
However Janata Dal-United (JD-U) national spokesman Shivanand Tiwari questioned the booking of special trains by RJD. He alleged that Lalu Prasad was "blatantly misusing" railway resources for ensuring the success of his party's rally.
Leaders of the ruling JD-U and BJP coalition fear a show of strength from the RJD chief who is known for organising massive rallies to deliver a political message to his supporters and rivals alike.
This is the first time Lalu Prasad is holding a rally here after he was ousted from power in the 2005 assembly polls. All eyes are on his rally because the turnout will indicate whether his support base is still intact.
"Why is Lalu Prasad organising chetawani (warning) rallies when we are making efforts to achieve all-round growth of the state?" Tiwari asked.
The railways charges about Rs.800,000 for running a special train with 18 bogies.
"The railways will earn nearly Rs.25 million for running 35 special trains for the chetawani rally," railway officials said.
But some railway officials said running of 35 rally specials besides nearly 100 regular trains in the zone would be a tough task.
"Some long distance trains, including the Rajdhani Express which runs through Bihar and Jharkhand, would be delayed due to the rally special trains," an official said.
B.D. Garg, the Danapur divisional railway manager, said the railways had drawn up an action plan to run the special trains on Oct 27 and 28.
"We have made elaborate arrangements for the smooth running of passenger trains as well as long distance trains," he said.
The railway zone that serves Patna had borrowed coaches from different zones in view of several Puja special trains running throughout the country.
Several senior railway officials have been deputed to supervise the arrangement of special trains for the rally.
RJD sources claimed the special trains would ferry at least 200,000 people to Patna.
"The chetawani rally will set a new record as over one million people are expected to attend it," a RJD leader said.
Upbeat RJD leaders and party workers have put up hundreds of welcome arches, hoardings, flags and banners in the state capital -- all in the party's official green colour.
"RJD's green billboards and graffiti are visible everywhere in Patna," said Sahdeo Manjhi, a rickshaw-puller and Lalu Prasad sympathiser.
The green arches and hoardings have virtually taken over Gandhi Maidan, Dak Bungalow Square, Ashok Rajpath, Boring Road and Station Square.
Shakeel Ahmad Khan, a former Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader, made it clear green is to RJD what red is to the Communists and saffron to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"Yes, entire Patna has turned hara-bhara (full of green)," Khan said.
Going by the number of welcome arches, hoardings, banners and billboards, it seems like RJD leaders are competing with one another to win the party chief's approval and blessings.
Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi's pictures have been pasted on all hoardings, banners and billboards.