Congress on Monday downplayed the issue of minister of state for railways Mukul Roy virtually defying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by not visiting the train accident site in Assam as directed by him, saying that the MoS had simply said he was far away from the spot.
Singh, who holds the Railways portfolio, asked Roy to visit Rangiya where six coaches of Guwahati-Puri Express derailed last night after a blast injuring over 100 people, PMO sources said.
Roy did not go to the site despite being in neighbouring West Bengal, saying that the track had been cleared and there was nothing for him to inspect.
However, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, "Roy has simply stated the fact that he was far away".
"I think this is a terrible tragedy over which every section of the society is concerned. Our hearts go out. Every possible action in accordance with the established procedures in such matter has already been initiated," Singhvi said.
Roy had yesterday argued that he was "1,000 kms" away from the site and there was another Minister of State for Railways who could go there.
Sources said Roy, who belongs to Trinamool Congress, told the Prime Minister's Office that the affected railway track had been cleared and the injured moved to hospital and that there was nothing for him to inspect.
It was not clear whether he conveyed the same to the Prime Minister.
The party also dismissed suggestions that the spate of train accidents were due to absence of a full fledged cabinet minister for the Railways.
"Had accidents not happnened when there were cabinet ministers," party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi asked while replying to questions at the AICC briefing.
The Prime Minister holds charge of the Railways ever since Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee became the chief minister of West Bengal.