Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: In the wake of the train accident in West Bengal, the Left parties have sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention to ensure that the Railways, in coordination with security agencies, step up precautionary measures to protect passengers and railway property in all the Maoist-affected areas.

In a statement, the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said, the tragedy was compounded by the “irresponsible” absence of due diligence on the part of the railway authorities. In violation of their declared policy to ensure specific safety measures in the Maoist affected areas, in this case the pilot train which should have preceded the passenger train to check the safety of the track was not operated, it claimed.

This perhaps could have averted this tragedy and saved the lives of passengers. “The persistent denial of the existence of Maoist activities in West Bengal by the Railway Minister may have led to the lack of preparedness of the authorities,” said the statement.

Condemning the incident along with the CPI (M) and expressing grief at the loss of lives, the Communist Party of India took exception to Mamata Banerjee blaming the West Bengal government for the incident. CPI leader D. Raja termed Ms. Banerjee's statement as “cheap politics” and felt she should have taken responsibility for what had happened. “After all, she is responsible for railway safety. She cannot pass the buck,” he added.