The Opposition in Maharashtra blamed the Centre and the Devendra Fadnavis-led Bharatiya Janata Party government in Maharashtra for the stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station in Mumbai on Friday that claimed 22 lives.
The BJP’s ally Shiv Sena joined the Opposition chorus, and questioned why the government had spent crores of rupees on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, but had failed to repair the bridge. Calling the tragedy a “public massacre”, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said party leaders had written to the Railway Ministry several times to repair the Elphinstone Road bridge.
“You have money for bullet trains, but not for repairing the bridge,” NDTV quoted Raut as saying. “You let the poor passengers die...and for moneyed passengers, you talk about bullet trains.”
Meanwhile, Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar said the bullet train project only worked as a massive propaganda to showcase Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his home state Gujarat. “The bullet train project will not benefit Maharashtra in any way,” the former deputy chief minister said, according to The Hindu. “Had Fadnavis instead thought of improving the condition of the railways in Maharashtra, such terrible mishaps would not have occurred.”
Congress President Sonia Gandhi termed the tragedy a “man-made disaster”, and said such incidents could have been avoided if proper planning had been in place.
Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev accused Prime Minister Modi of “huge dereliction of duty” for not according top priority to the safety of rail commuters, PTI reported. “It is almost a criminal negligence leading to manslaughter,” Dev said. “We demand an impartial judicial inquiry by a sitting judge into the entire accident.”
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday had ordered an inquiry into the incident, and said the foot overbridge where the stampede occurred will be widened.