Odisha Train Accident: Political War of Words Continues as ‘Sabotage’ Emerges in Tragedy

6 June, 2023 | newsx bureau

Train Accident Political

The deadly triple train clash in Odisha not only left the entire nation in shock but also divided politicians on the issue of accountability and the resignation of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

Odisha Train Accident: The deadly triple train clash in Odisha not only left the entire nation in shock but also divided politicians on the issue of accountability and the resignation of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. While opposition party leaders demanded his resignation on moral grounds, others argued that the tragic accident has been marred by petty politics.

NewsX had a special debate on the same with representatives from various political parties where they shared their insights on whether the incident has been politicised.

Mita Chakraborty, representing the Congress Party, emphasized that the accident has not been marred by petty politics. Talking to NewsX, Chakraborty called for holding the responsible individuals accountable without
any biases. She pointed out that on the 9th of February 2023, concerns were raised regarding the failure in signalling and interlocking systems, but remained unaddressed. Furthermore, she highlighted that the railway sector suffers from a severe staff shortage, with 35 per cent of loco drivers working shifts exceeding 12 hours, and approximately 3 lakh positions lying vacant.

Furthermore, Chakraborty stressed that while initiatives like Vande Bharat are commendable, equal attention must be given to the improvement of the railways. She also criticized the underutilization of railway safety budgets, which compromises passenger safety.

Jui Biswas, representing the TMC, echoed Chakraborty’s sentiment that the accident has not been exploited for political gains, but genuine questions are being asked. Biswas said that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was forced to respond to the media to clarify the claims made by BJP about accidents and casualties during her tenure, while she pointed out that the TMC had responded
to the incident promptly, deploying 68 ambulances and their MPs and MLAs actively participating in rescue operations.

The three-way accident involved the Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express, the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express and a goods train.

Biswas questioned why the implementation of the KAVACH protection system, announced by the railways in March 2022, did not contribute to preventing this tragic disaster. She stated that the KAVACH system, which is currently implemented on only 1445 km of the total 68043 km route, should be extended to enhance overall safety.

On the other hand, Desh Ratan Nigam, a political analyst, who also joined NewsX for the debate recalled previous accidents that occurred during Mamata Banerjee’s tenure and highlighted that no resignation was demanded at that time. Nigam criticized the Congress Party for making incorrect statements about train cancellations, which were later clarified by IRCTC through their Twitter account. Nigam also criticized Rahul Gandhi for his statements in San Francisco, calling for unity among political parties to strengthen the government’s resolve in addressing the underlying issues.

Trains have started running on the tracks where the incident occurred after the completion of the restoration work.

Meanwhile, TR Prasad Gowda, representing the JDS, supported MP Deve Gowda’s stance on not demanding an immediate resignation from the Railway Minister. He emphasized the ongoing CBI investigation and called for a fair outcome. Gowda noted that it is not up to the representatives to demand a resignation but believed that it should be the moral obligation of the Railway Minister if he feels responsible for the accident.

Meanwhile, the CBI has registered a case in the triple train accident in Odisha’s Balasore on June 2 that claimed more than 277 passengers’ lives and injured around 1,100 people. A 10-member CBI team reached the site of the accident on Tuesday morning as part of its investigation into the tragedy.

A senior CBI official said, as quoted by ANI, “A team of CBI experts will investigate to find out if it was a deliberate attempt to derail the Coromandel Express or it was human error.”