Odisha train tragedy: Who is accountable, asks Congress; demands Ashwini Vaishnaw's resignation

Chief operating manager of South Western Railway flagged 'serious flaws' in signalling system that railway minister ignored, alleges Congress leader Surjewala

The Odisha train accident (photo courtesy: @gauravmandall/Twitter)
The Odisha train accident (photo courtesy: @gauravmandall/Twitter)


The clamour for Union railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw’s resignation for the horrific triple train accident in Odisha's Balasore, one of the deadliest in India's railway history, has been growing louder since Saturday, 3 June, as the figures of casualties and injuries kept mounting. The accident took place in the evening of Friday, 2 June.

Unlike the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and other Opposition parties, the Indian National Congress had refrained from attacking the Central government on Friday and Saturday. In a mark of respect for those killed in the ghastly accident, Congress leaders joined the nation in its grief and mourning, saying the focus needed to be on rescue and relief first.

Congress president, Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday said, "Though there are many questions... for answers, we can wait".

However, with rescue operations finally completed by Saturday evening, the Congress on Sunday have hurled a barrage of questions at the Modi government, and alleged that the minister had ignored 'warnings'.

Referring to a specific input sent by the chief operating manager (COM), of the South Western Railway earlier this year, Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Randeep Surjewala asked on Twitter, "Why was Rail Minister and Railway Ministry immune or ignorant or negligent?"

The COM had highlighted 'serious flaws' in the signalling system in February 2023. If the signal maintenance system was not monitored and corrected immediately, it could lead to serious accidents, the COM said in his preliminary report.

Surjewala asked whether the railway minister is preoccupied "with marketing and pleasing the Prime Minister rather than concentrate on Railway Safety". After raising a few more points, he went on to add, "Is this the reason why Railway Minister largely skipped the presentation on Railway Safety on 2nd June, 2023 in the Chintan Shivir (hours before the #OdishaTrainAccident ) and concentrated on launch of Vande Bharat Trains and increased revenues?"

Apart from the Congress, TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee and NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday demanded Vaishnaw's resignation for Friday's triple-train accident.

"When Lal Bahadur Shastri was railways minister, an accident took place and it happened again. After that, Jawaharlal Nehru was against the decision of [Shastri] giving [his] resignation. But Shastri had said that 'it is my moral responsibility' and resigned. The same [sort of incident] is being faced by the country, [so] the politicians should take the possible steps," Pawar suggested, speaking to the media on Saturday.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines