Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday slammed four BJP MPs from Karnataka for their undermining AICC chief Mallikarjun Kharge's letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Odisha railway tragedy, saying it was another example of the "absolute intolerance" of the saffron party to any criticism.
Chidambaram also said the BJP MPs' letter in response to Kharge was "shallow on facts and hollow on arguments."
Four BJP MPs from Karnataka, including former chief minister Sadananda Gowda, had taken exception to Kharge's writing to Modi, saying the letter was "high on rhetoric and low on facts."
"It does not suit a leader of your stature to write letters to the PM based on facts gotten from 'WhatsApp University'. But perhaps as the vice chancellor of WhatsApp University, you are forced to regurgitate fake news as facts," the letter written by Tejaswi Surya, PC Mohan, S Muniswamy, and Gowda said.
Reacting to the stance taken by the BJP MPs, Chidambaram said their response was another example of the "absolute intolerance of the BJP to any criticism."
Chidambaram said Kharge being the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha is entitled to write to the Prime Minister.
"In a functioning democracy, the people expect the Hon'ble Prime Minister to reply to the letter. But our democracy is such that the Hon'ble Prime Minister will not deem it worth reply," the former Union finance minister said.
Instead, four BJP MPs take it upon themselves to send a reply that is shallow on facts and hollow on arguments, he said.
"Two CAG reports submitted in December 2022 completely vindicate Shri Kharge's reasoned criticism," he said.
"The letter dated 09-02-2023 of the Principal Chief Operations Manager of the S W Railway was a forewarning that a tragedy such as Balasore was likely to happen. I have no doubt that the letter lay unattended in some file of the S W Railway and was gathering dust. Will the Hon'ble BJP MPs tell us what action was taken on the letter?" Chidambaram said.
Congress president Kharge had written to Prime Minister Modi earlier this week, saying the CBI is meant to investigate crimes, not railway accidents, and cannot fix accountability for technical, institutional, and political failures.
Kharge had also said "all the empty safety claims" of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw have now been "exposed" and the government must bring to light the real reasons that caused this grave accident, which he described as one of the worst in Indian history.
In his four-page letter to Modi, the Congress chief had alleged that instead of focusing on strengthening the railways at the basic level, only "superficial touch up is being done to stay in news."