With municipal polls across West Bengal scheduled for Sunday, both the ruling Left Front and Trinamool Congress sought to use Friday’s tragedy to score political points.
As Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee is also Union railway minister, the CPI(M) lost no time in demanding her resignation over the railway disaster. The Railways, it said, had clearly failed to check tracks closely in a Maoist area, despite regulations to that effect.
“The railway minister should accept responsibility,” said CPM state secretary, Biman Bose.
Banerjee in turn, rushing to the accident spot, demanded a central enquiry as she had no faith in the Left Front ruling the state.
“It is very unfortunate so many innocent lives have been lost. We should not play games with innocent lives,” she said, without directly blaming the Maoists.
Though the official statements of both the CPM and Left Front made no reference to it, some CPM leaders did not hesitate to refer to Banerjee’s alleged proximity to Maoists.
The rebels had supported her during Banerjee’s campaign against forcible land acquisition in Nandigram.
“Mamata Banerjee has never been critical of the Maoists. Even today she did not criticise them, though so many innocent lives have been lost,” said Mohammed Salim, former MP and CPM central committee member.
Banerjee has often claimed that the ‘terrorism’ of the Left Front cadres is worse than the Naxal menace.
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb refused to make any immediate political comment other than saying “we are fighting them (Maoists) politically and administratively”.