On 1 February, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal claimed in the parliament that Indian Railways had witnessed its safest year in the history in 2018-19. He made the claim while presenting the interim budget on Friday.
He had said, “Indian Railways has experienced the safest year in its history. All Unmanned level crossings on broad gauge network have been completely eliminated.”
Two days later, another episode of derailment of coaches has led to a huge train accident in Bihar’s Vaishali district, leaving at least seven people dead and several others injured.
Soon after the news of the train accident became public, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and several other high-profile politicians expressed their grief on the death of seven passengers. But, curiously, Union Railway Minister Goyal has not tweeted anything related to the tragic accident in Bihar. Instead he’s been busy promoting his party’s election agenda on Twitter.
हाजीपुर में #SeemanchalExpress के दुर्घटनाग्रस्त होने के समाचार से दुःखी हूँ। रेल हादसे में घायल यात्रियों के शीघ्र स्वास्थ्य लाभ की कामना करते हुए मृतकों के परिजनों के प्रति गहरी शोक संवेदना प्रकट करता हूँ।
— Lalu Prasad Yadav (@laluprasadrjd) February 3, 2019
बिहार में #SeemanchalExpress के दुर्घटनाग्रस्त होने की हृदयविदारक ख़बर से मर्माहत हूँ।
मृतकों के परिजनों के प्रति गहरी संवेदना प्रकट करता हूँ एवं घायलों के शीघ्र स्वास्थ्य लाभ की प्रार्थना करता हूँ।
— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) February 3, 2019
वैशाली के सहदेई बुजुर्ग स्टेशन के पास सीमांचल एक्सप्रेस रेल दुर्घटना में लोगों की मृत्यु दुःखद। घायलों के शीघ्र स्वस्थ होने की कामना है। जिलाधिकारी एवं पुलिस अधीक्षक रेलवे के साथ समन्वय कर राहत कार्य का अनुश्रवण कर रहे हैं। https://t.co/QV9hCXSPTN
— Nitish Kumar (@NitishKumar) February 3, 2019
For example, all his social media posts using his official Twitter account @PiyushGoyal has been about text and video messages to woo voters ahead of this year’s parliamentary polls. His Sunday’s Twitter activities including retweeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s posts on the microblogging site on participatory democracy and two videos showcasing the BJP-led central government’s achievements in the last five years.
Interestingly, even while sharing Modi’s tweet, he chose not to retweet the prime minister’s social media post on the Bihar train accident. Goyal also remembered to retweet every single tweet of Arun Jaitley slamming Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge for sending his dissent note on the appointment of the new CBI Director. He, however, still did not feel it appropriate to comment on the train accident in Bihar.
The official Twitter handle of Goyal’s office, however, posted a series of tweets on the train accident, but it’s still not clear why he has not reacted on the deaths of seven people travelling in Seemanchal Express. In one tweet, Goyal’s office said that the railways would give ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of every deceased. “Rs 1 lakh would be given to the grievously injured and Rs 50,000 to those who suffered simple injuries. All medical expenses will also be borne by Railways,” it added.
Last year in three major train accidents, more than 70 passengers had lost their lives. The biggest amongst them was the accident in Amritsar, where a fast-running train had rammed into a group of people gathered for annual Dussehra celebrations. As many as 59 people had died in the said accident.