The Indian Railways has dismissed food service of a Varanasi-based catering contractor over several complaints regarding the food quality in the premium Swarna Jayanti Ahmedabad Rajdhani. The step was taken on Friday after a BJP MP from Gujarat raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha. The train is used by MPs from the state as well as other state BJP and RSS functionaries and businessmen. In past seven months, they were bringing the issue of poor food quality to the notice of Rail PSU IRCTC. In the time period, as many as 133 complaints related to food were received from the Swarna Jayanti Ahmedabad Rajdhani, reported The Indian Express stating official data. Taking note of it, the zonal railways had been slapping the caterers with repeated financial penalties for below standard food quality. The combined penalty in the last six months amounted to Rs 9.5 lakh. Out of this amount, about Rs 8.3 lakh has been realised so far.
The Varanasi-based Ambuja Caterers was serving food in the train. However, when the order to dismiss its contract was issued, the cateror exerted political pressure on the Railways to save the contract, said IE Sources. It allegedly claimed close ties with some BJP workers positioned at high posts, including a senior Union Cabinet minister. Even Shankarbhai Vegad, the MP had raised a question on this issue in the Rajya Sabha and asked not to dismiss the contract seeking attention towards over hundred of employees who will become jobless after this. But constant complaints in past few months did not let all this work and the IRCTC overlook the demand to discontinue the food service.
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Talking to IE, Vegad said he had only asked for improvement in service in the train. The MP further said all MPs from Gujarat had given feedback in writing that the quality had improved in the past couple of months and thus they would not want to take away the jobs of poor people working for the catering service.
However, the mention of the issue in Rajya Sabha proved fatal for Ambuja, which was first served a show cause notice and then asked to leave.