The advertisement for the flagging off of the prestigious luxury train, ‘Maharajas' Express' by the Railways on Saturday ran into controversy with an inaccurate depiction of Delhi in Pakistan and Kolkata in the Bay of Bengal.

The major goof-up also figured in a State Summit on “The Way Forward” organised by a TV channel in the city on Saturday, with Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechuri remarking: “This is also another way forward – in a Railways' advertisement Kolkata has been shown in the Bay of Bengal and Delhi in Pakistan.”

The Eastern Railways (ER) was quick to act, pinning the blame on the advertising agency Adunique 76 and blacklisting it. In a press release the ER said: “The advertising agency which designed and released the advertisement in connection with the flagging off of the ‘Maharajas' Express,' committed a great mistake, pointing out cities wrongly in respect of India. In the design approved by the ER, there was no such mistake and the ER had given correct details to the agency.

“The agency has been blacklisted and debarred from dealing with any railway work,” the release said. The ER Chief Public Relations Officer, Samir Goswami apologised for the incident.

Somen Gupta of Adunique told The Hindu that the map in the advertisement was only an artist's impression and not to scale. He said that the agency had been working with the Railways for nearly 12 years now.

The train, flagged off by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee late in the evening, promises to provide a ‘rare travelling experience' starting off from here and then touching Gaya, Varanasi, the forests of Bandhavgarh in Maharashtra then Khajuraho before touching Agra , Gwalior and Delhi.

New Delhi Special Correspondent writes:

The Bharatiya Janata Party criticised the government for the advertisement charging that it was an affront to the country's sovereign pride. It demanded an apology from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

It recalled how on January 26 an advertisement had shown the former Pakistan Air Chief, Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed, alongside Dr. Singh.

Alleging that it exposed the ‘state of governance,' the BJP hoped that the Prime Minister would correct the way the government was functioning. It also demanded an enquiry.

PTI reports:

The Congress said, “it seems to be a mistake on the part of the Railways.”

However, it is a serious issue and “one should take note of it and ensure that no such incident occurs again,” party spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said. Asked about the BJP's criticism, he said “nobody should try to gain political mileage out of an administrative mistake.”

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