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Eyesore: Madan on Metro walls

Trinamul-backed Metro staff association’s poll posters, bearing images of minister Madan Mitra, at Netaji (Kudghat) and Shahid Khudiram (Birji) stations. Telegraph pictures

Metro Railway’s code of rules that prohibits posters on its premises has taken a beating with the Trinamul Congress-backed staff association pasting posters of sports and transport minister Madan Mitra canvassing for the April 25-26 union polls.

Hundreds of such posters have invaded walls, pillars and flap gates of several stations on the elevated section, including Netaji (Kudghat), Masterda Surya Sen (Bansdroni), Gitanjali (Naktala), Kavi Nazrul (Garia Bazar), Shahid Khudiram (Birji) and Kavi Subhash (New Garia).

Some of the posters have chief minister Mamata Banerjee along with Mitra.

A smiling Mitra asks voters with folded hands to vote for the Metro Railway Pragatishil Shramik Karmachari Union, affiliated to the Trinamul trade union wing INTTUC.

The message reads: “Metro Railway karmacharider sarbik unnayan o pragatir sharthe agami 25 o 26 e April gopon ballot e nirbachon hobe. INTTUC onumodito Metro Railway Progotishil Shramik Karmachari Union ke ei chinhe chhaap diye bipul vote e joyee korun. (For the overall progress of Metro Railway employees there will be a secret ballot vote on April 25 and 26. Cast your votes in this symbol and ensure a huge victory for the INTTUC-recognised Metro Railway Progotishil Shramik Karmachari Union).”

Posters where the two ministers are together bear Poila Baisakh greetings from Mamata and the usual “vote for us” plea.

CPM and Congress-backed unions were also in the fray since this would be the first official Metro staff union polls. Earlier, the Railway Board didn’t recognise the union.

Posters of the rival Congress-backed Metro Railway Workers’ Congress (MRWC) were also seen at some stations.

Mitra, on his part, was silent on his party-backed staff association sticking posters on Metro premises but came down heavily on the Congress-backed union for “misusing my name by nominating me as president of the panel of MRWC… without obtaining any sort of consent from my side”. He said he had resigned from the MRWC, which was earlier backed jointly by the Trinamul and the Congress.

“Was it not illegal?” he asked in a statement, a copy of which was marked to the office in-charge of Shakespeare Sarani police station.

Demanding police action, the minister alleged that posters bearing Mamata’s image have been torn and vandalised by “hooligans of the Metro Railway Workers’ Congress”.

People were clearly not smiling, unlike Mitra on the posters. “These posters are eyesores at the otherwise spick and span new stations,” said football coach and Kudghat resident Subrata Guha.

Metro officials said they were unaware of the poster invasion. “We don’t allow any kind of posters on the premises. We’ll look into it,” Metro Rail deputy general manager Protyush Ghosh said.

The authorities, however, weren’t sure if the associations responsible for sticking the posters would be fined.

Metro has been saddled with a cleaning staff crunch over the past few years, taking cleanliness to new lows. There were spit stains at nooks and crannies of stations despite a Rs-500 fine on offenders. “Commuter figures have almost trebled. Staff strength has not increased much. The spit-fine notices were placed at strategic locations, but there is hardly enough people to stop passengers from spitting on platforms, tracks and even the vestibules between coaches,” an official said.

Gutkha and paan stains could be seen at vestibules of even the new AC coaches.