When the game of political brinkmanship to lord over the railway ministry was about to end for now, with Mukul Roy being sworn in replacing Dinesh Trivedi, the railways got hit again with a major accident.
At 7.19am on Tuesday — hours before Roy took oath — 15 people were killed as the Mathura-Kasganj Express hit a van in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh as the vehicle tried to cross the track at an unmanned crossing.
Roy, prioritising “safety, security and punctuality” as his top agenda, informed Parliament later that the accident had been caused by the van driver’s negligence, who did not stop to check for approaching trains.
Trivedi, too, planned to raise funds for, among other things, eliminating unmanned crossings.
“More than 40% of train accidents… occur at unmanned level crossings,” he said while announcing Rail-Road Grade Separation Corporation of India to eliminate level crossings in his budget speech last week.
But he was shown the door on his party boss Mamata Banerjee’s insistence as he hiked fares to modernise the network and strengthen the safety systems, reportedly without consulting her.
PM avoids media, Sonia silent
The usual upbeat mood was missing at Mukul Roy’s swearing-in. While PM Manmohan Singh skipped the customary media interaction after the function, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi refused comment on the reshuffle. Dinesh Trivedi, who skipped the function, later told a TV channel the decision to oust him had been taken before he presented the budget.