Fly­over tragedy toll rises, po­lit­i­cal slugfest be­gins

24 DEAD IN KOLKATA TMC on back foot three days ahead of Assem­bly polls

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent letters@hin­dus­tan­

KOLKATA: The fly­over col­lapse that killed at least two dozen peo­ple in Kolkata has sparked a po­lit­i­cal slugfest, with the rul­ing Tri­namool Congress (TMC) forced on the back foot just three days ahead of the Assem­bly elec­tions in West Ben­gal.

But the po­lit­i­cal deci­bels ap­peared to un­der­mine the hu­man cost of the tragedy. The death toll rose to 24 on Fri­day as res­cuers worked round-the-clock to pull out some 90 peo­ple alive from un­der the rub­ble of the fly­over which caved in a day ago.

By late Fri­day much of the wreck­age had been cleared. Dis­as­ter work­ers said it was un­likely more peo­ple could still be trapped.

Police ar­rested three se­nior of­fi­cials of the Hy­der­abad-based com­pany IVRCL, which was con­struct­ing the fly­over. They also filed cul­pa­ble homi­cide charges against the firm.

The vi­su­als of res­cue work, the blood and suf­fer­ing played out on TV and news­pa­pers ap­peared more to stoke pol­i­tics, of­fer­ing the op­po­si­tion Left–Congress al­liance and the BJP a po­tent weapon to at­tack the rul­ing party with. Kolkata votes on April 25 and May 5, mean­ing the op­po­si­tion will get a month to step up pres­sure on the Tri­namool, which has sought to de­flect all blame.

“The ten­der was awarded dur­ing the Left rule. We did not know any­thing about it,” chief min­is­ter Ma­mata Ban­er­jee has said, adding, “No one should try to make po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal out of it.”

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