Odisha train accident: Rail Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw responds to resignation demand: ‘Absolutely fine, but…’
Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that this is not time for politics but for quick restoration in response to comments made by Mamata Banerjee on underreporting of death toll. Opposition leaders like Sharad Pawar and Digvijaya Singh have called for his resignation.
Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw replied to Mamata Banerjee comments on underreporting of death toll saying that this is not time to do politics but to see that restoration happens quickly.
The three-way accident involved Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, the Coromandel Express and goods train on three separate tracks at Bahanaga Bazar Station in Odisha's Balasore district. According to the updated Indian Railway numbers, the death toll in the Odisha train tragedy is 288 while 747 people were injured along with 56 grievously injured.
On Saturday, Ashwini Vaishnaw and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee disagreed on the death toll in the Odisha train accident with their argument caught on camera. Vaishnaw, who was standing with Mamata Banerjee while she was interacting with the media, sought to correct her when she suggested that the death toll could be as high as 500. "I have heard it could be 500," she said, adding that rescue work had not been completed in three bogies. Vaishnaw said that rescue work has been completed. She further asked what is death toll after completion of rescue work. Vaishnaw responded that 238 people had died in the accident that involved two passenger trains and a goods train and added that the figure was according to the data from state government.
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Moreover, opposition parties are also demanding his resignation from his post of railway minister. While speaking to media, Sharad Pawar said, “When Lal Bahadur Shastri was a Railways Minister, an accident took place and it happened again. After that, Jawaharlal Nehru was against the decision of giving a resignation. But Shastri has said that it is my moral responsibility and resigned. The same incidence is being faced by the country, the politicians should take the possible steps."
Senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijaya Singh also demanded his resignation. While speaking to reporters, he said, “When Railways Minister repeatedly says that our system is fool-proof and any severe accident cannot happen then how this happened... He (Ashwini Vaishnaw) is an ex-IAS officer of Odisha cadre, where this tragedy has taken place. There is an example where in such a train accident, Lal Bahadur Shastri had resigned from his post." "We don't expect this from PM Modi's cabinet, but if he (Ashwini Vaishnaw) has a little bit of shame, he should resign," he added.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel too hit out at Vaishnaw saying that "he should tender his resignation". "The entire nation is saddened by the incident. Do they have morality or not...BJP which speaks about morality then he should resign," Baghel said.
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Without taking anyone's name, he added, "The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) always speaks about responsibility, therefore he [referring to the Railway minister] should tender his resignation after this major train accident." He further added that the railway minister had claimed that railways has adopted a modern technique according to which if another train comes on track that it gets stopped before 400 metres. "But three trains collided here [in Odisha], in his state".
Earlier Congress leader and former chief minister of Maharashtra Prithviraj Chavan also demanded the railway minister's resignation. "We demand the resignation of the Railway Minister, he should offer voluntary resignation and follow the tradition of Lal Bahadur Shastri," Chavan said.
(With inputs from agencies)
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