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PM Narendra Modi looking for minister with better track record to replace Suresh Prabhu

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants a well-functioning railways that will help define a significant part of the story about his government and a short list of “experienced” administrators is being considered in case Suresh Prabhu, who offered to resign on Wednesday, is replaced. But the PM also recognises that Prabhu has put in a lot of effort on the aspect of improved connectivity.
However, the narrative over the last few days that shifted to safety has raised concerns at the highest levels, senior officials familiar with the matter told ET.
They said two senior leaders, a central minister and a major state leader, could be considered but no final decision has happened as yet.
“He would prefer a dedicated minister to look at reform. Someone who has proved his mettle, is sincere and focussed on the ministry full-time. The PM is aware it is the ministry with the largest people connect and wants it to bear the stamp of his government’s work with high-speed corridors, safe trains and smart stations,” a senior official said.

But more than anything, the PM wants trains to be safe for passengers, the official said. “The PM’s modernisation plan can be put in place only by someone who understands business and administration. He would not want any controversies, especially with investment plans related to the bullet train speeding up.”

A minister high on integrity and focussed on delivery is what the PM wants, officials said. For the past two years the Centre and the ministry managed to make high level appointments in railways without any complaints of lobbying or bribery. This must also continue under any new minister, officials said.

In a series of tweets posted after meeting the PM, Prabhu wrote: “Met PM… I am taking full moral responsibility. PM has asked me to wait.” Two major rail accidents in last four days prompted Prabhu to offer his resignation. On Wednesday early morning, there was a major train derailment when nine coaches of Kaifiyat Express derailed near Auraiya, leaving over 70 injured.
Prabhu also tweeted that he did everything possible to bring Indian Railways back on track. “In less than three years as minister, I have devoted my blood and sweat for the betterment of the Railways. Under leadership of PM, tried 2 overcome decades of neglect thru systemic reforms…”

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