For the first time in its tortuous relationship with the mercurial boss of the Trinamool Congress, Mamata Banerjee, the Congress has decided to put up resistance - by making her wait for railway minister Dinesh Trivedi's removal.
Immediately after Trivedi presented the railway
budget on Wednesday, Banerjee asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to sack the minister. Her charge: Trivedi hiked fares without taking his party boss into confidence.
Her argument: "Can Pranabda (Mukherjee) present his budget keeping (his party chief) Sonia Gandhi in the dark?"
Although Mukherjee told TMC parliamentary party chief Sudip Bandyopadhyay that Banerjee's request to remove Trivedi would be acted upon as soon as possible, the Congress plans to delay it until the railway budget is passed.
The Congress core group is expected to meet on Friday to take a final call on the demand.
But Banerjee is insisting that minister of state for shipping Mukul Roy be inducted immediately as the next railway minister so that he could announce the rollback during the minister's reply to the debate on the railway budget.
In what was interpreted as a message to the UPA's second largest constituent, Mukherjee told Lok Sabha: "The PM has received a communication from Mamata Banerjee. It is under the active consideration of the PM."
Meanwhile, Trivedi attended Parliament and office as usual on Thursday, saying, "Nobody has asked me to resign."
On Wednesday, he met technocrat Sam Pitroda - one of his key advisors - and reportedly called the Prime Minister. Singh, according to sources, asked Trivedi not to put in his papers.
In yet another message to the TMC, Gandhi wrote to Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav - who has 22 MPs in Parliament - wishing new Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and regretting her inability to attend his swearing-in ceremony on Thursday.
But the Congress doesn't yet want to end abruptly its ties with the TMC. A day before the general budget, the party tried to assuage the TMC on the National Counter Terror Centre.
The PM, during his reply on Monday on the motion of thanks on the President's speech, may announce that the NCTC will be put on hold.
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