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TMC brings up Modi’s 2016 ‘act of fraud’ taunt

The PM had called out CM Mamata after the Vivekananda Road flyover collapse in Bengal
At least 26 people were killed in 2016 when a part of the flyover under construction collapsed. An official from the construction company had dubbed it “an act of god”
At least 26 people were killed in 2016 when a part of the flyover under construction collapsed. An official from the construction company had dubbed it “an act of god”
Representational picture

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya   |   Calcutta   |   Published 01.11.22, 02:05 AM

Trinamul on Monday slammed the Narendra Modi government and the BJP over the bridge tragedy in the Prime Minister’s home state, bringing up his taunt to Bengal after the Vivekananda Road flyover collapse of March 31, 2016, and demanding to know whether the Gujarat incident should be deemed an “act of fraud”.

Trinamul national spokesperson Sukhendu Sekhar Ray tweeted a link to an April 7, 2016 video of Modi’s speech, and said: “Let there be a few drops of tears, Modiji, over the death of 132 persons in newly renovated bridge collapse in Gujarat yesterday.”


Through the day, various leaders from the national Opposition — Congress, the Shiv Sena, the TRS, and the Samajwadi Party — and civil society voices critical of the saffron regime circulated the clip on social media, demanding answers from the Prime Minister for the Morbi tragedy.

On April 7, 2016, Modi had accused chief minister Mamata Banerjee of corruption, during a campaign rally for the BJP in north Bengal’s Birpara, and mocked her for trying to “shamelessly” blame the erstwhile Left regime for the flaws in the under-construction flyover. “Such a huge bridge collapsed, what did these people say? They said, it is but an act of god. Didi (Mamata), this was not an act of god, but an act of fraud, fraud,” he said.

At least 26 people were killed in 2016 when a part of the flyover under construction collapsed. An official from the construction company had dubbed it “an act of god”.

“It is an act of god in that sense, however, that the bridge collapsed during the (Assembly) election. So that it is understood what kind of a government you ran. That is why, god gave the people a message, that today, this bridge collapsed, and tomorrow, she will finish all of Bengal this way. ‘Save it (Bengal)’, that was god’s message,” Modi had added.

In the 2016 Assembly election, Mamata’s Trinamul won 211 of the 294-seat Assembly. Modi’s party had won three.

In her only public response to the Morbi tragedy, so far, the Trinamul chief on Sunday night posted on Twitter a statement: “I am deeply concerned about the tragic bridge collapse in Morbi, Gujarat, that has cost several innocent lives and left many trapped. My deep condolences to the families and friends of the deceased. I pray that the injured have a speedy recovery.”

Trinamul state general-secretary Kunal Ghosh asked if the BJP would now send a fact-finding team to Gujarat.

“The BJP is in the habit of sending fact-finding teams... in states ruled by non-BJP forces. It should send a fact-finding team to Gujarat. It should demand a probe by central agencies,” said Ghosh.

Congress veteran Pradip Bhattacharya demanded exemplary action against all those responsible for allowing the bridge to be accessed by people without due diligence, allegedly for garnering applause ahead of the Gujarat Assembly election. “So much about this was totally illegal. Those who gave permission, why are cases not being lodged against them? The BJP-led Gujarat government and the Centre are mum on these things,” said the Rajya Sabha member.

CPM central committee member Sujan Chakraborty mocked the much-hyped “Gujarat model”, demanded a judicial inquiry, and wondered if there was “Trinamul-esque” corruption involved by way of “cut-money”.

BJP state chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya lashed out at “petty, uncalled for” politicisation of the tragedy.

Bengal bridge review

The state public works department will review the health of all bridges in Bengal in view of the Morbi tragedy. “The meeting will be held in Nabanna on Tuesday,” said a senior government official. Sources said that the health of all bridges in the state is being examined by the engineers regularly. The latest reports on the bridges would be tabled on Tuesday.

Doing regular health checks on the condition of the bridges in Bengal started after the collapse of the Majerhat Bridge in 2018.

At that time, a thorough health audit of about 1,800 bridges across the state was conducted.

"It was found that more than 50 bridges needed to be replaced as these had become weak since they were constructed some 50 to 60 years ago. But work on only three bridges, including the one over river Ajay in Birbhum district's Illambazar, could be taken up. However, work to replace other old bridges could not be taken up because of financial constraints," said a senior official.

Sources said that though a majority of the weak bridges could not be replaced, regular repair work and maintenance had been carried out on these bridges.

"But the Gujarat incident has pointed out that all the bridges across the state need to be checked once again. If some more bridges are found weak, proper steps need to be taken to ensure that no major mishap takes place," said an engineer.

But, sources admitted that the main problem facing the state was the scarcity of funds.

"The state needs at least Rs 3,000 crore to start the work for replacing all the weak bridges. But the state's exchequer does not allow the government to spend such a handsome amount right at this moment. The Centre should come forward to help the state in such a situation," said a senior official.

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