The race for vacant top posts in the Railway Ministry has turned ugly, forcing the senior officers’ association to write to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Cabinet and the Railway Minister. The letter, sent Thursday by the Federation of Railway Officers’ Association (FROA), which represents all Group A officers, states that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is being misused by various lobbies to eliminate competition by raking up old vigilance cases that have already been settled internally.
The FROA has demanded that the entire appointment process be recast to ensure there is no manipulation or victimisation of those vying for top posts.
It has been alleged that old complaints were dug up by competing lobbies against some of the five contenders for the post of Chairman, Railway Board. Recently, Northeast Frontier Railway General Manager RS Virdi’s contention was eliminated after a 10-year-old vigilance case was brought up in the last minute and sent to the CVC.
It is learnt that the CVC clearance for Kolkata Metro General Manager Radhey Shyam and South Western Railway General Manager AK Mittal have reached the Railway Board, while clearance for the others is awaited.
Stating that such manipulation and victimisation starts at the level of general managers (GM) of zonal railways, since they eventually become contenders for the post of Railway Board members, the letter demands a complete overhauling of the GM appointment process. Presently, seven GM posts in zonal railways and a few production units are vacant, with intense lobbying on for each post.
The federation has sought government intervention to ensure that Railways do away with the age-old “discriminatory” system of dividing GM posts into open-line (zonal railways) and non-open-line (production units). Only open-line GMs are eligible to become Railway Board members. As a result, there is constant lobbying to ensure officials are not posted as non-open-line GMs. The letter seeks to abolish this classification once and for all.