More than 72 hours after she demanded the sacking of her partyman and railway minister Dinesh Trivedi over his budget, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee stands fended off by the Congress, for now, by being drawn into an intricate battle of technicalities.
The Congress said if Banerjee was in a hurry to get Trivedi out, she should seek his resignation rather than toss the ball into the PM’s court. Trivedi too on Saturday demanded a formal communication from the chief.
While it’s clear the Congress isn’t taking things lying down, an otherwise aggressive Trinamool too has softened its stand on the issue.
The key UPA ally didn’t laud the general budget, but at least called it “tolerable” and asserted the government would last its term — the climbdown perhaps prompted by the SP factor.
While the Congress has little option but to replace Trivedi, it’s buying time till Monday when the PM replies to the motion of thanks on the President’s address in the Lok Sabha.
Trinamool chief whip Kalyan Banerjee on Saturday called up Trivedi and asked him to quit. But the minister demanded a formal note and said he had a constitutional duty to pilot the rail budget in Parliament.
Trinamool parliamentary party leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay, however, said Trivedi would “get nothing in writing”.
“There is a precedent. Mamata Banerjee resigned as railway minister in the NDA government after the 2001 budget presentation. The reply for the discussion was given by successor Nitish Kumar,” he said.
Banerjee was unwilling to relent even as Congress managers requested her to let Trivedi reply to the budget debate and stay in office for the first half of the budget session.
“I have already said whatever I had to say. Now the government has to decide. Mukul Roy is our candidate for railway minister,” she said in Kolkata.
The Congress wants limited damage to the rail budget and conveyed its difficulty in rolling back passenger fares, a big source of revenue for the railways.