Decision on change of platform not taken by Minister: Nitish



New Delhi: Striking a different note from his ally BJP, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today came in defence of Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee over the Delhi railway station stampede incident, saying the decision to change the platform for a train is not taken by "a minister".

Kumar, who was Railway Minister during 2001-2004, pointed out that such incidents took place earlier too and it was responsibility of the railway officials concerned to use their past experience and act accordingly in case it was necessary to bring a sudden change in the platform for arrival or departure of any train.

"I don't think that a decision to change platform (for a train) is taken by (Railway) Minister," Kumar said, adding, it was too far-fetched to imagine that such matters reach the Railway Minister.

"If a last minute decision to change platform is taken, it creates problems. Normally platforms should not be changed and if it is done, people (passengers) should have been given adequate time (to move). As, the moment the platform is changed, it prompts a sudden rush," the JD(U) chief said.

Describing the incident as "unfortunate", Kumar, however, made it clear that he did not have any specific knowledge about what exactly led to the stampede at Delhi Railway station, saying whatever he knew was reported in media.

"... such incidents took place earlier too. On the basis of past experience, (concerned railway) official should look into this...," he said making it clear that he was not commenting on the incident as the Chief Minister of Bihar but a former Railway Minister.

The BJP had criticised Banerjee over the stampede yesterday, saying nothing better could be expected from an "absentee" Railway Minister.

The party had also said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh owed an explanation about the "indifference and absenteeism" of the Railway Minister.

PTI