Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Odisha tragedy: Resign from post, Opposition leaders appeal to Railway minister

Several Opposition leaders on Saturday demanded the resignation of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw in view of the Odisha train accident.

At least 288 people are dead and more than 900 injured after 10-12 coaches of the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express derailed and fell on an adjacent track in the path of another train from Yeswanthpur to Howrah near Balasore in Odisha late last night.

“The Railway Minister, who is an ex-IAS officer of the Odisha cadre, always claimed that the system is foolproof and no accident can occur,” Digvijay Singh told reporters in Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh.

“There is an example when Lal Bahadur Shastri had resigned after a train accident (in 1956) but we can’t expect such a step from the (incumbent Railway) minister in the Modi cabinet. If a bit of shame is left, the minister (Vaishnaw) should resign,” Singh said, reports PTI.

“The entire nation is heartbroken with the accident. The Bharatiya Janata Party talks about morality and decency. So he (Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw) should immediately resign,’ Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel told reporters at Rajiv Bhavan, the Chhattisgarh Congress’ headquarters in Raipur.

‘It is definitely his responsibility and we will see whether he discharges his responsibility or not,’ said Baghel, who paid tribute to those dead and injured, and informed he has spoken to his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik and offered help from the state, PTI reported.

Veteran politician and Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar said: “When Lal Bahadur Shastri was the railway minister, an accident took place. Then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru was against Shastri’s decision to resign, but Shastri believed it was his moral responsibility to quit.”

“This example is known to the nation and those in power should do what they feel is appropriate,” Pawar asserted.

The ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal demanded Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw’s resignation over the horrific triple train crash in neighbouring Odisha.

TMC’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee alleged that the Union government was spending crores of rupees on software to spy on opposition leaders while neglecting the installation of anti-collision devices in trains to prevent such accidents.

“My heart goes out to the families who lost their loved ones and wishing a speedy recovery to the injured, and if there remains a semblance of conscience, the Railway Minister should resign. NOW!” he wrote on Facebook.

Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar also termed the Odisha train accident a failure of the government and said Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw should resign from the post by taking moral responsibility for the tragedy.

“In the past, five railway ministers resigned taking moral responsibility for major accidents (during their tenure). In the same way, the current railway minister (Vaishnaw) should take moral responsibility and tender his resignation,” Pawar said.

“So many innocent lives were lost even as a revolution is taking place in transportation technology. This is a failure of the railway department and the government,” the former Maharashtra deputy chief minister said.

“Earlier, railway ministers used to resign whenever such accidents occurred. This is history. But nobody is ready to speak about it now,” he said.

“His resignation won’t solve the issue, but it would send out a message to the officials,” the Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly said.

CPI MP Binoy Viswam has demanded that Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw resign over the incident.

“Government concentrates only on luxury trains. Trains and tracks of common people are neglected.Orissa deaths are the result of it. Rail minister should resign. concentrate only on luxury trains. Trains and tracks of common people are neglected.Orissa deaths are the result of it. Rail minister should resign,” Viswam said in a tweet.

A massive rescue operation is underway at the accident site in Bahanaga Bazar near Balasore to retrieve people trapped in the derailed coaches. This is considered one of the deadliest train crashes in India in recent times.

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw ordered for a high-level probe into the incident and announced an ex gratia payment of Rs 10 lakh in case of death, Rs 2 lakh for the grievously injured and Rs 50,000 for those with minor injuries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inspected the triple train accident site at Bahanaga in Odisha’s Balasore district to take stock of relief and restoration operations. He also visited a hospital at Balasore and met the injured victims.


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