Left MLAs demand Mamata's resignation

Noisy scenes broke out in the West Bengal Assembly on Monday over the major train mishap in Birbhum district with ruling Left Front members demanding immediate resignation of the railway minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, on moral grounds.

The Left Front MLAs accused Ms Banerjee of being indifferent to the safety and security of passengers - a charge vehemently denied by legislators of her party Trinamool Congress and ally Congress.

The Trinamool Congress smelt a conspiracy behind repeated train mishaps in the state and demanded a thorough probe by the union government and the Railways.

Congress chief whip, Mr Asit Mal, dubbed the demand for Ms Banerjee's resignation as politically motivated and alleged that the attempt to politicise the tragic incident was not proper even as Speaker, Mr H.A. Halim, expressed concern over frequent train accidents.

Mr Halim said there was something wrong somewhere but did not apportion any blame or hint at any conspiracy.

Raising the issue, senior CPI-M member, Mr Robin Mondal, alleged that the only aim of the railway minister seemed to be how to become chief minister after the 2011 Assembly polls.

He also alleged that there was utter neglect of maintenance and safety and security of passengers. Railway travel had become unsafe and passengers were nervous to undertake journeys, he said.

Mr Mondal, who was strongly backed by other Left Front members, said the Railways engaged in self-publicity with regular newspaper advertisements on introduction of new trains and other activities, ignoring the basic need for safety.

When improving infrastructure and ensuring proper functioning of the inter-locking system and brakes were the need of the hour, the railway minister was found wanting and negligent, he said.

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