Armed with the Samajwadi Party's assurance of support, the Congress wants an 'honourable exit' for railways minister Dinesh Trivedi.
Top Congress managers are also negotiating with Trinamool to limit any possible roll back of the passenger fare hikes. "Our aim is to see that the fare hike proposals are unaltered as much as possible even if a new Trinamool nominee steers the passage of the budget," a Congress minister said. The party wants the upper class fare hikes to remain and partial roll-back in the second class, sleeper class and suburban travel.
While Trivedi is certain to quit, as demanded by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, the Congress has insisted that Trivedi be allowed to reply to the budget-debate next week and stay in office until the first half of the budget session.
Sensing that the Congress can't be pushed beyond a point, Banerjee calmed down on Friday after a long spell of aggressive Centre-bashing. The troublemaker ally labelled the union budget "tolerable" despite finance minister Pranab Mukherjee remaining silent on Trinamool's demand for moratorium on the state's loan repayment.
The Congress core committee that met on Friday discussed Banerjee's demands. Mukherjee is believed to have briefed the core committee about the developments. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called Banerjee on Thursday and promised to remove Trivedi. Banerjee wants Mukul Roy as the new railway minister.
Trinamool not only toned down their rhetoric, but also 'withdrew' the dharna, continuing since Wednesday, outside Parliament against the Centre.
In yet another signal, the party remained mum on the 12% service tax imposed on first class AC travel in trains though it will add to the rising fares.
On Friday, Trivedi sat on the first row of the treasury benches with UPA chief Sonia Gandhi and home minister P Chidambaram during the budget speech.