When writing about train journeys, a prominent name always comes to my mind, that of Com. Basudeb Acharia, veteran leader of CPI(M) and 7 times Member of Parliament from W.Bengal. One of the best parliamentarians, he was Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways for a good number of years. Took up many issues of the railway workers and settled. He was always very helpful in taking up the issues of the P and T workers, BSNL and others. It was through his efforts that BSNLEU could meet the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and many Ministers of Communications several times. Whenever I went to his official quarters he was kind enough to meet immediately and do the needful. That was his usual method with everybody. Several times I approached him for getting VIP quota for train tickets since it was impossible to get reservation at short notice. Never the railways Ministry refused his recommendation.
Coming to the point. Com. Basudeb Acharia was not only the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Railways, but was also a person who used Railways as his journey mode, most of the time. He used to travel by train, instead of air travel which he is entitled to, when going to Delhi to attend Parliament and returning. Of course, it was also convenient to him since his constituency Bankura was on the way. I still remember the way how he reached Kannur to attend the All India Conference of All India BSNL DOT Pensioners Association on 6th February 2013. He came from W.Bengal to Chennai by train, then came to Kannur by Chennai – Mangalore Mail which reached a bit late at about 10.30. He inaugurated the Conference, had a hasty meal and off to Chennai by Mangalore – Chennai Mail at 15.30 hours or so. That was Com. Basudev Acharia. He had arranged a meeting with the then Chief Minister of U.P. Shri Akhilesh Yadav to discuss about immediate action to be taken against the culprits in the gruesome murder of Com. Sukhpal Singh, our District Secretary Ghaziabad. When we went to receive Basudev Acharya at the Lucknow Railway station, we could see a large number of railway employees crowding near him and making all arrangements for him. He was so close to them.
Trains are the prime mode of travel in the country. It is comparatively cheap with even tickets for Rs. 10 which is the charge for platform tickets also. The move by the Modi government to privatise railways will be a disaster for the common man. All political parties and the nation as a whole has to come forward to stop this since, it adversely affects 95% of the population who use it mostly for their travels.