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When Lal Bahadur Shastri Resigned After A Train Accident… | Coromandel Express Accident

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A massive train accident involving the Coromandel Express resulted in the death of more than 280 people, leaving several others severely injured. The accident, which involved two passenger trains and one freight train, took place in Odisha on June 2, 2023.

Following the accident, several people have started a campaign online demanding the resignation of the railway minister and have asked some tough questions to the government of India.

Expecting a resignation from the railway minister following a terrible accident might be a rarity these days, but it has not always been so. The second Prime Minister of India, and former Railway Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, was the first to set the precedence.

In 1956, a major railway accident resulted in the death of 112 people in Mahbubnagar region of Andhra Pradesh. The accident was a huge blow to the newly independent India. Following the mishap, the then Railway Minister stepped down from his position, after taking the moral responsibility for the accident. After receiving his resignation, Prime Minister Nehru was quick to intervene and persuaded Shastri to withdraw his resignation.

Shastri resigned as Railway Minister after train disaster

Credits – Inshorts

Unfortunately, a few months later, in December 1956, there was another train accident in Tamil Nadu, which resulted in more mayhem than the previous one. The Ariyalur rail accident resulted in the death of 144 people. After two quick accidents, Shastri submitted another resignation and pleaded to the PM for its early acceptance.

While addressing the issue in the lower house of Indian Prime Minister Nehru opened up about the dilemma he faced. He also stated that he had the highest regard for Shastri. In the same speech, Nehru highlighted the importance of keeping constitutional values intact while addressing these issues. “From the broader point of view of constitutional propriety that we should set an example in this and no man should think that whatever might happen, we carry on without being affected by it.”

When Nehru was almost ready to forward the resignation to the President, thirty MPs appealed to the Prime Minister, saying that the Railway Minister or his department had no direct role in the accident, given that it was a technical failure. They also stated that instead of accepting the resignation, the Prime Minister should laud the Railway Minister for taking such a step.

However, Shastri was in no mood to get persuaded the second time.

15 August 1947: When Nehru talked of tryst with destiny, Gandhi warned new  ministers - India Today

Credits – India Today

On receipt of this letter, I talked to him also last night when I saw the great distress of his mind and the burden he was carrying. Afterwards, I thought of it again and I came to the conclusion that it would be better for me [to advise]… the President to accept his resignation, not because I hold the Railway Minister responsible— not—and “I have also spoken in high terms of his work and joint work we have done together… no man can wish for a better colleague in any undertaking… A man of the highest integrity, loyalty, devoted to the ideal, a man of conscience and a man of hard work. We can expect no better. It is because he is such a man of conscience that he [feels] deeply whenever there is any failing in the responsibility entrusted to his charge.” said Prime Minister Nehru in the parliament.

Also Read

Odisha Witnesses A Horrific Triple Train Crash; More Than 280 Dead



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