Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee announced here on Saturday that henceforth railway recruitment examinations would be conducted on a single day across India, and hoped that this measure would help avoid clashes among examinees over the region-of-origin issue.

Speaking at the flagging off ceremony of two trains — Sealdah-Ajmer Sharif Express and New Farakka-Nabadwip Dham Express — from Sealdah station, Ms. Banerjee said: “Alongside officially recognising all regional languages for railway recruitment examinations to fulfil regional expectations, we have decided to hold the examination on a single day in all States across the country. Through this measure, people in every State will get enough opportunity and there will be less violence. Local examinees will get priority.”

She also announced the railway authorities’ decision to decorate all new stations keeping in mind the local art and culture.

Lauding the “austerity drive” initiated by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for all Union Cabinet Ministers, the Trinamool Congress chief pointed out that the Railways had initiated such a drive before any other Ministry. “I had ordered cutting down on foreign tours and five-star hotel stays for railway officials after becoming the Railway Minister.”

Referring to the non-stop Duranto trains that will be flagged off simultaneously from Kolkata and Chennai on September 18, she said a section of people were running a “slander campaign” against the trains by casting doubts about the age of the coaches and their safety status. She emphasised the need for development in all spheres in West Bengal.

Criticising the Communist Party of India (Marxist) supporters for allegedly damaging railway property during various incidents in the State since she became the Railway Minister, Ms. Banerjee urged the CPI(M) to regard her as a “political opponent, while sparing the railway property, which is also the Union government property.”

She said: “I invite the CPI(M) leaders to join railway functions. Pelting stones on trains and trying to cause rail accidents is not politics…suppose, I decide to retaliate violently in the face of such actions. Will that be an alternative at all? Never.”

Pranab praises Mamata

Mr. Mukherjee praised the Railway Minister for delivering on most promises made in the budget.

“Many had doubted whether the plethora of announcements made by Ms. Banerjee will be finally implemented or not. But less than three months after presenting the Railway budget, she has initiated and executed most of her promises, not only in West Bengal but across the country.”

More In: National | News