The code of conduct coming into effect with the announcement of the dates of the Lok Sabha polls has made a group of people very happy: the babus at city's railways.
Just before the elections, the number of requests that come their way vis-a-vis inauguration of projects, trains and passenger amenities from politicians, often go through the roof, leaving several departments concentrating on such works in a tizzy.
In fact, the Mumbai South-Central MP Eknath Gaikwad just managed to beat the code of conduct by inaugurating a passenger reservation system (PRS) centre at Mahim station around 9am on Wednesday. Had the function been held in the afternoon, as is railways practice to attract a bigger gathering of the media, Gaikwad would have missed the deadline.
The beating-the-deadline-game, in fact, started some days ago. On March 1, Mumbai North-Central MP Priya Dutt inaugurated the extension of the Kurla LTT-Darbhanga Express route from Darbhanga to Raxaul (on Bihar-Nepal border). According to officials, had it not been the election time, it would just have been a mundane affair restricted to sundry announcements at railway stations and some press releases shot off to newspaper offices across the city.
On March 3, Western Railway announced that the Mumbai Central-New Delhi Rajdhani Express would halt at Borivli station with effect from March 15. This had been a demand in place since the early 2000s. It was first raised by BJP leader Ram Naik and later taken up by film star-turned-MP Govinda. The credit, however, would now go to Mumbai North MP Sanjay Nirupam for 'succeeding' in making the long-time demand a reality.
"Such things keep happening during run-up to elections every time. There will be many projects nearing completion. At this period, pressure would start mounting on the departments concerned from political quarters to get them completed, as then politicians would be able to inaugurate them with much fanfare.
The sprawling concourse of the Kurla terminus is now an ideal choice for politicians. The new Bombardier rake, which would be operated by the Western Railway, was inaugurated at Kurla terminus by the railway minister, and the function had its fair share of political speeches," said an official.