New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANS): Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and offered to resign "taking full responsibility" for train accidents and said Modi had asked him to "wait".
Hours after a second train derailed in four days, Prabhu called on the Prime Minister "taking full responsibility" for the state of affairs. "PM has asked me to wait," he tweeted.
On Saturday, the Kalinga Utkal Express derailed in Muzaffarnagar district leaving 22 people dead. Even as the railways cracked down on errant officials and staff, the Kaifiyat Express derailed in Auraiya district on Wednesday injuring 74 people. Both accidents took place in Uttar Pradesh.
Though Prabhu did not specifically mention that he had offered to resign, there has been intense speculation that he may have offered to resign considering the language of his tweets.
Railway Board Chairman A.K. Mittal has also offered to resign in the wake of the accidents. But there was no confirmation if Mittal has quit.
"I am extremely pained by the unfortunate accidents, injuries to passengers and loss of precious lives. It has caused me deep anguish," the Railway Minister said. "New India envisioned by PM deserves a Railways which is efficient and modern. I promise that is the path, on which Railways is progressing now."
Prabhu said that he had tried to overcome "decades of neglect through systemic reforms in all areas leading to unprecedented investment and milestones".
He said in less than three years as Minister, "I have devoted my blood and sweat for the betterment of the Railways".
A Chartered Accountant by profession, 64-year-old Prabhu -- formerly in the Shiv Sena -- joined the BJP in May 2014 before he was inducted into the Cabinet as the Railway Minister.
After the Saturday accident involving the Kalinga Utkal Express, the Congress said that since the Modi government took power in 2014, 259 passengers had died and 899 had been injured in 27 rail accidents.
An initial probe into the Kalinga Utkal Express tragedy found that the accident was caused due to negligence by railway staff.