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Meet the MP who stopped massages on trains

June 20, 2019 09:08 IST

'How can you have massages on trains in the presence of other lady passengers?'

IMAGE: Shankar Lalwani, the Bharatiya Janata Party's member of Parliament from Indore. Photograph: Kind courtesy Shankar Lalwani/Facebook

On paper at least, it must have seemed that the Western Railway had a winning proposition on its hands.

Western Railway's Ratlam division rolled out plans to provide head and foot massage to weary travellers on 39 trains originating from the Indore railway station, in a bid to entice more passengers to traveling by the railways.

The proposal was also in line with a parliamentary committee report last year which said the railways 'should give priority to remunerative and commercially viable projects so that it will not be under financial stress'.

An official had estimated that the massage service would earn Rs 20 lakh/Rs 2 million a year, and the expected bump in railway traffic would lead to an extra earning of Rs 90 lakh/Rs 9 million via ticketing.

 

The contract had been given out and the massage on wheels service was expected to roll out in the next fortnight when the Bharatiya Janata Party's first-time member of Parliament from Indore, Shankar Lalwani, stepped into the picture.

Upset by the proposal, which he deemed was against Indian culture, Lalwani dashed off an angry letter to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, following which Western Railway dropped the proposal like a, well, hot coal.

"Passengers should be given additional facilities on trains like medical services," an irate Lalwani tells Rediff.com's A Ganesh Nadar.

What prompted your action to stop massages on trains?

How can you have massages on trains in the presence of other lady passengers? I did not like that and so I objected.

But sir, massages usually take place in a separate enclosure and not in front of anybody. Plus, the railways said it was only a head and foot massage and not full body?

As it is, our trains are so crowded and you want to take space away from legitimate passengers and give it for massage?

See, we have massage centres at airports, I am not objecting, it is for the rich.

Ordinary folks travel on trains, they will not like the idea of people taking massages.

I have said I have no objection to having these massages on tourist trains.

I also added that they should give additional facilities on trains like medical service in case a passenger needs a doctor.

That is more important than giving them a massage.

I will speak about this issue in Parliament.

Former Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who you replaced as MP in Indore, had worked so hard for your party and yet the BJP retired her. Was it right to do so?

We have to develop the next generation and for that the older generation must make space.

They remain to guide us, that is why we have Margdarshaks in our party.

How did you get a ticket to contest from Indore when there were so many influential claimants?

I have worked as a karyakarta for 25 to 30 years. The party has seen my work and given me the ticket to contest.

They know I have worked for many years for the people of this constituency.

As the first-time MP from Indore, what are your plans for your constituency?

Indore is the cleanest city in the country, I plan to keep it that way.

It is the 8th on the list of most livable cities, I plan to make it number one on that list.

There are many religious places in my constituency like Ujjain, I plan to develop religious tourism.

We will improve our airport and other transport systems.

Who was your inspiration for joining politics?

I don't have any particular idol. I was always interested in social service and I realised that politics is a good way where you can serve the people on a larger scale than as an individual.

Why did you join the BJP?

I liked the ideology of the BJP. It was a party that served the poor and the downtrodden.

How are you planning to implement the prime minister's slogan, 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas'?

I know that there are certain sections of people who are far from us, who have maintained a distance from us. I will win their trust, I will work for all people in my constituency.

A GANESH NADAR / Rediff.com
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