The BJP said on Saturday Mamata Banerjee awarded a contract for a strategic railway tunnel to the company constructing the collapsed Kolkata flyover despite knowing the fact that the firm was blacklisted and was facing a CBI probe.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also mounted pressure on the West Bengal chief minister ahead of the assembly polls starting April 4 saying the ruling party was responsible for the flyover cave-in that killed 26 people. Gandhi visited the collapse site and met injured at the hospital on Saturday.
The BJP and the Left-Congress are trying to pin down the Trinamool over the flyover collapse and project it as a result of corruption under Mamata’s tenure. The Trinamool, however, say the flyover project was initiated by the erstwhile CPI-M government.
BJP national secretary Sidharth Nath Singh distributed a one-page document to the media to back up his allegation that Mamata was familiar with the Hyderabad-based IVRCL, under the scanner following the flyover cave-in.
Police arrested one more official of the company on Saturday taking the total number of people behind bars in the incident to four. Three arrested officials were produced before a court on Saturday and were remanded to police custody for seven days.
Singh said Mamata, who was the railway minister in 2009 and 2011, awarded a joint venture of IVRCL a contract to build the Rs 761-crore Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramula tunnel despite the company being already blacklisted. The contract was cancelled on April 11, 2014 after 10% of the work was completed.
“Mamata Banerjee knew that the CBI was investigating a case against IVRCL for supply of materials to build houses for tsunami victims. She cannot run away from the fact that IVRCL got this contract when she was the railway minister. She cannot say she did not know IVRCL,” Singh said.
The work of the tunnel continued under railway minister Mukul Roy, also from the Trinamool.
He said a subcontract for the flyover was given to a relative of Trinamool MLA and candidate from Jorasanko constituency Smita Bakshi. Bakshi is the proprietor of Sandhyamani Projects.
The sub-contractor was allegedly involved in supplying cement and iron for the portion of the Vivekananda flyover that collapsed on Thursday.
The Trinamool hit back with Lok Sabha MP Kalyan Banerjee saying that the BJP was trying to mislead the people as it “has realised that it will not get a single seat this time”.
The incident figured prominently during the day in the state’s electoral theatre with Rahul Gandhi paying a visit to the disaster site in the morning and having a look around the twisted metals and the debris.
“The flyover collapsed and people died. People of Trinamool Congress were involved in the construction of the flyover,” Gandhi said in his first political campaign in Burdwan district’s Kulti.
He also attacked Mamata on the issue of corruption and highlighted the Narada sting operation, which purportedly showed Trinamool leaders including state urban development minister Firhad Hakim taking bundles of bribe money.