New Delhi/Kolkata: Congress president Sonia Gandhi expressed "her deep grief and anguish" over the train tragedy in West Bengal and wished speedy recovery to the injured.
A statement from All India Congress Committee (AICC) said, "While conveying her deep condolences to the bereaved families, she also wished speedy recovery for the injured."
RJD chief Lalu Prasad said, "It's unfortunate that incidents like these are happening so often. Utmost caution is needed and adequate compensation must be given."
"I don't understand why such accidents are taking place," Prasad said. "This is a sad incident and a serious lapse." Prasad, however, parried a question about allegations that Mamata was concentrating on West Bengal politics ignoring her department.
Lok Jan Shakti party president Ram Vilas Pawswan was more scathing in his attack on Mamata. He said, "No Maoist attack, nothing. It's happened because of Railway's negligence. Mamata has to decide her priorities - whether it's West Bengal or Railways. This attitude can not go on." The former Railway Minister demanded a judicial probe into the incident.
BJP raised eyebrows about the capability and willingness of Mamata in providing safety to passengers and suggested that if she continued to use her office for playing politics in West Bengal she should be made "minister without portfolio".
"Mamata Banerjee should concentrate on Railways. If she is using the Railways as a platform for politics in West Bengal, it is better to make her a minister without portfolio," BJP spokesperson Tarun Vijay said.
Five major train accidents have taken place since Banerjee took over as the Railway Minister in 2009. When asked if BJP would demand her resignation, the spokesperson said at the moment the party only wanted an inquiry into the latest incident.
CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharya in Kolkata accused Mamata of not taking "any initiative" to maintain and modernise the public transport service.
"Maintenance is not done properly. The Railway Minister has no time for this and has not taken any initiative," said Acharya, a former chairman of the railway standing committee and party leader in Lok Sabha.
He claimed that work on upgrading the signal system in the route where the accident took place had come to a halt for a year now and the old system was still in place. He also said that there was shortage of staff and vacancies were not filled up in the Railways. There was also delay in beginning rescue work at Sainthia.
(With inputs from Agencies)