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Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, July 01, 2011
Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee wants party colleague Dinesh Trivedi as the next railways minister in the Union Cabinet. As the preparations for the Cabinet reshuffle gathered momentum, Mamata requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to appoint Trivedi, currently minister of state for health and family welfare, as the railways minister.

Mamata initially wanted Mukul Roy, the MoS, shipping, as her successor in Rail Bhawan. However, she later changed her mind. Roy is likely to be shifted to some other ministry and also get major party assignments.

Mamata was the railways minister after the UPA returned to power in 2009. In May 2011 she relinquished the post to become the West Bengal CM.

During her visit to New Delhi last month, Mamata had expressed confidence that her party would be able to retain the railway portfolio.

“We had just one Cabinet berth. We don’t think there would be any problem in retaining it,” Mamata had said then in New Delhi. As a matter of practice in coalition governments, the railways ministry is allotted to a key partner.

Apart from strong sentiments against Roy in the TC, he could not make an impact in his first meeting with the PM after becoming the third MoS of the railways. The PM wanted to know his vision of the railways. As Roy started reading from a prepared speech, Singh cut him short, saying the speech was not needed.

Initially, the Congress was keen that a party member got the portfolio, say sources. In UPA 2, the Congress had wrested key portfolios such as telecom, shipping, road transport and civil aviation from its allies. But Mamata argued that she wanted to retain the railways  as there are several projects related to West Bengal which needed to be monitored.