Railway, Law Ministries jinxed in UPA-II?

Last Updated: Sunday, May 12, 2013 - 13:22

New Delhi: Railway and Law Ministries appear to have become jinxed in recent years.
During the four years of the UPA-II, ministers having these two portfolios have not been able to remain in office for more than two years.

Pawan Kumar Bansal and Ashwani Kumar, who were forced to quit on Friday just within six months of being in office in the wake of controversies surrounding them, were the latest casualties.

Railways has seen five ministers during four years, two of whom -- Dinesh Trivedi and Bansal -- left under unpleasant circumstances.

When UPA-II assumed power in May 2009, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee became the Railway Minister. She resigned two years later to become West Bengal Chief Minister.

Trivedi, her party colleague, succeeded her in Rail Bhavan but he was forced to quit by Banerjee in less than a year after he proposed hike in passenger fares in last year`s Railway Budget.

In fact, his exit was so hasty that he was not able to see the passage of the Railway Budget which he presented in Lok Sabha.

His position was taken by Mamata loyalist Mukul Roy but he too remained in the post only for about six months as his party withdrew from the government protesting against allowing FDI in retail.

The portfolio then went to Bansal, who became the first Congress leader in 17 years to get the ministry.

This was because the last Congress minister who was in-charge of Railways was Suresh Kalmadi whose tenure ended in 1996 after the United Front government came to power.

Bansal received a blow last Friday after his nephew was
caught by CBI allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 90 lakh to get a senior Railway official a plum posting.

Shastri Bhavan-based Law Ministry has a similar tale to tell. Mild-mannered M Veerappa Moily took over as Law Minister when the UPA-II came to power in May, 2009. But he was left sulking when he was removed from the Law Ministry in July, 2011 and shifted to the Corporate Affairs Ministry.

He said "vested interests" had opposed his campaign for law reforms and had conspired to blame him for the government`s legal setbacks, including the one relating to the appointment of P J Thomas as the CVC.

Moily`s place was taken by Salman Khurshid, who was also embroiled in a controversy related to the Zakir Hussain Trust being run by him and his wife Louise.

The Trust works for physically challenged people. In October last year, a TV channel alleged that the Khurshids had embezzled funds, a charge denied by the couple.

He was later shifted to the External Affairs Ministry, a move seen as his elevation.
In October last year, Ashwani Kumar took over from Khurshid as the next Law Minister. His rise in politics was as dramatic as his fall.

Kumar found himself totally isolated in the party when the controversy broke out last month over his vetting a status report of CBI on coal block allocation.

Before Coalgate, Kumar was involved in yet another controversy when Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman stepped down in February this year following differences with the minister.

Nariman was unhappy over certain directions of the Law Minister and the ministry. He is also believed to be annoyed over the way some of the government directions were reaching him.

Transport minister C P Joshi was given additional charge of Railways, while Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has been asked to look after the Law Ministry.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, May 12, 2013 - 13:22

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