Without naming any political party as being responsible for Friday's train disaster near Kharagpur in West Bengal's Paschim Medinipur district, Trinamool Congress chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said here on Saturday that the incident was “a political conspiracy” that had been staged by her “opponents” two days ahead of an election in the State.

On the one hand, Ms. Banerjee blamed the State government for its “casual attitude” and inadequate security extended to the Railways, and on the other she lashed out at the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for trying to make political gains in the face of a tragedy. “Railways is not a political ground,” she said.

“This is a heinous crime and after such a serious incident has taken place the CPI (M) people are shouting at me. When there is an unfortunate incident, you must take care of the passengers, not your party,” she said.

“State lax in rescue”

Stating that law and order is a State subject, Ms. Banerjee insisted that the State government should take the security of the Railways more seriously as “passengers' lives are most important.” “We cannot run trains until the State government gives a clearance that it is safe to do so,” she said, adding that the State government had also been lax in the conduct of rescue operations.

Appeal to electorate

Although Ms. Banerjee said that she was not sure whether the Maoists or “any other political party” had sabotaged the railway track between Khemasulli and Sardiah, which led to the train accident, she urged the people of West Bengal “to not give a single vote” to those who had conspired against her and committed this act.

Her appeal to the electorate in Sunday's polls to 81 civic bodies across the State has raised a question whether she may have violated the code of conduct laid down by the State Election Commission that stipulates that campaigning should end by 3 p.m. on May 28.

Claiming that the CPI(M) was capable of creating mayhem and chaos, she appealed to the people of West Bengal to vote for her party.

“One may be politically against us, but engineering this incident for political gains is unfortunate,” Ms. Banerjee said, adding that the conspirators had played with human lives.