The BJP’s much-awaited Hunkar rally at Gandhi Maidan (October 27) is still over a month away, but railway officials in Patna already have their hands full.
They are busy working out a plan of action to manage the huge number of BJP supporters expected to descend on Patna to take part in the rally.
Railway officials are expecting more crowds than seen at the JD(U)’s Adhikar rally last November — called to demand special status for Bihar — and are making arrangements accordingly.
A senior East Central Railway official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “This being one of the biggest BJP rallies, we anticipate a large number of supporters will come to attend it. I am no politician, but my hunch is there will be more people at this rally than the earlier one called by the JD(U).”
He further said, “The JD(U) had booked seven special trains for the earlier rally, but the BJP could book more trains, at least 12-15, for its rally. We have already received applications for bookings from Bhagalpur, Kishanganj, Katihar, Purnea and West Champaran and more applications are likely to come before the rally.”
The rally has gained popularity ever since the BJP’s state unit invited Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to address it and the latter confirmed he would participate. Till the time the JD(U) and BJP were in alliance, Nitish ensured he was not invited to campaign in the state.
With Modi being anointed the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate on Friday, the attendance at the October rally is likely to soar further.
The railway isn’t complaining, it has reason to cheer. Hiring a special train costs about Rs 9 lakh each. “It is good for the railways. We will generate handsome revenue,” said a railway official.
Adequate Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel will be deployed to cope with the rush of passengers at Patna Junction, Danapur railway station and Rajendra Nagar terminal, the official said.
“It is not final yet, but all trains from Delhi side might have to terminate at Danapur station and those from or to Howrah might have to use Rajendra Nagar terminal in the days leading to the rally,” the official said.
He also said that on the day of the rally, many trains would have to halt at the newly built Patliputra junction. Passenger trains could also be shifted to other platforms instead of the regular platform numbers 9 and 10.
Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Assembly, Nand Kishore Yadav, said the party has begun booking trains. “But people are not arriving just by train, many will reach Patna by bus too. We have already started booking community halls and lodges to accommodate them. Arrangements are also being made at MLAs’ official bungalows,” he said.