Kolkata, Jun 3 (IANS): Trinamool Congress general secretary and Lok Sabha member Abhishek Banerjee on Saturday demanded the resignation of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw over the Odisha train tragedy in which at least 288 people have been killed and over 900 injured.
Announcing the decision to cancel all his political activities for the day as a mark of respect to the victims, Abhishek Banerjee told the media that although during her tenure as the Railways Minister, Mamata Banerjee initiated the process of putting in place an anti-collision system, the project has not been implemented yet.
"The Prime Minister often speaks of 'Digital India' but the anti- collision system was neglected. Had this system been in place, such a mishap could have been avoided. A separate commission should be set up to investigate the matter," he said.
He also said that the death toll would have been much higher had the accident happened after 8 p.m.
"Generally, during the evening hours, the passengers remain in the lower berths. The middle and upper berths are generally occupied from 8.30 p.m. onwards. Had the accident been at that time, the death figure could have crossed even 1,000," he said.
Abhishek Banerjee also questioned why Prime Minister Narendra Modi should not take responsibility for this accident, while he is "always eager to take credit for introducing the Vande Bharat Express".
"The Union ministers never travel by train. They always travel by flight. So they do not understand the inconvenience of the common people. I request the Union government not to endanger the lives of the common people for the sake of politics," he said.