Updated: August 24, 2017 7:30:36 am
In the wake of two train derailments in a span of five days, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday offered to resign from his post. In a series of tweets, Prabhu wrote, “In less than three years as Minister, I have devoted my blood and sweat for the betterment of the Railways. Under leadership of PM, tried to overcome decades of neglect through systemic reforms in all areas, leading to unprecedented investment and milestones. New India envisioned by PM deserves a Railways which is efficient and modern. I promise that is the path, on which Railways is progressing now.”
He further expressed his pain over the accidents and said that he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, taking full responsibility for the same, but has been asked to wait. “I am extremely pained by the unfortunate accidents, injuries to passengers and loss of precious lives. It has caused me deep anguish. I met the Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi, taking full moral responsibility. Hon’ble PM has asked me to wait,” he added. His tweets came hours after Railway Board Chairman AK Mital tendered his resignation.
Why has Suresh Prabhu offered to resign?
Prabhu was facing sharp criticism following derailment of Kalinga Utkal Express in Khatauli on Saturday evening that claimed over 20 lives and injured over 150. The Puri-Haridwar Kalinga Utkal Express derailment is one of the deadliest train mishaps in the recent times. Initial probe revealed negligence of staff on duty as the reason behind the derailment of Utkal Express. While the investigation of the Utkal express was underway, nine coaches of Kaifiyat Express went off the track near Auraia on Wednesday, leaving 70 people injured, raising serious questions over Prabhu’s handling of the ministry.
Taking moral responsibility, Prabhu offered to quit. Though the minister’s offer is yet to be accepted by the prime minister, the accident claimed a big casualty with A K Mital resigning as chairman of the Railway
Board whose chief is the administrative head of the public sector transport behemoth.
Reactions to the resignation
In response to Prabhu’s offer of resignation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said “accountability is a good system in the government”. He added that the PM will, however, take the final decision. “Prime Minister will take a decision on whatever request the railway minister has made,” Jaitley told reporters at a press conference.
However, the main opposition Congress accused Prabhu of having “utterly failed” in his job and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to sack him and appoint a “responsible person” in the position. This “responsibility business” would not do, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said while stressing that Prabhu must resign.
Read: 9 coaches of Kaifiyat Express derail in Auraiya, over 70 injured
“Prabhu should resign immediately if he has iota of morality left in him after today’s incident which has left 74 more people injured. It is worst kind of tokenism asking rail board chairman or any other official to step aside,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress said the offer of resignation may try to save the face of the “government’s utter failure” in the rail sector. “Only offering resignation minister may try to save the face of the govt’s utter failure in the rail sector, but it can not be interpreted as a panacea of the ills of the same. I would suggest that instead of boisterous claims of unfounded success stories on rail under NDA regime, which includes bullet train conceived by former regime, the government should look ‘back to basics’, whereby existing infrastructure should be maintained and revamped up to the mark. Only cosmetic surgery may appeared appealing but the inherent beauty lies in the performance, where the govt has failed miserably. Recurring rail accidents create fear and anguish among the common people in respect of rail service,” he said in a statement.
New Railway Board Chairman
Air India chief Ashwani Lohani was appointed chairman of the Railway Board, after incumbent A K Mital resigned. The announcement by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet came hours after Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu indicated he had offered his resignation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi following the accidents. “Necessary communication in this regard has been sent to the Ministry of Railways,” the appointments committee said.
Read: Who is A K Mital?
An officer of the railway mechanical service who had earlier served as the divisional regional manager in Delhi, Lohani was also the India Tourism Development Corporation chairman and headed the Rail Museum in the Capital.
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