When the trains stop, Mumbai stops – like during the deluge last Tuesday. Native Mumbaiites will tell you that unless you have travelled in a Churchgate or CST local during peak office hours, you will not understand the city or its needs. If that is the case, the new Railway minister is well qualified, as was, to be fair, the man he replaced.
Sunday’s Cabinet reshuffle saw the man from Matunga, Piyush Goyal, replace the man from Dadar, Suresh Prabhu, in the Railway ministry, which is the one that matters most to Mumbaiites.
Goyal has big shoes to fill. During Prabhu’s tenure, the city’s big ticket suburban railway projects got an estimated Rs40,000-crore boost.
The two have a lot in common, though Prabhu is 10 years older. Both are chartered accountants and lawyers. Both were bankers before they became politicians. BJP sources say both ministers also know first-hand the travails of travelling by locals during peak college and office hours.
Prabhu is a politician by accident. He was managing director at Saraswat Bank when he met Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, who prevailed on him to join his party. The four-time MP from the Sena’s safe seat of Rajapur, lost the confidence of Thackeray during his tenure as minister in the Vajpayee cabinet — apparently for maintain his clean image at the cost of the party’s interests. But Prabhu won an admirer in Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Goyal, however, is from a political family with close links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. His late father, Ved Prakash Goyal, was Union minister of shipping and national treasurer of the BJP for more than two decades. His mother, Chandrakanta Goyal, was thrice elected legislator and was known for her social work.