Dinesh Trivedi arrives to present the annual budget for the country's railway system, at the parliament in New Delhi. The government will unveil the budget for the Indian Railways on Wednesday. REUTERS/B Mathur
Stating he will not run away from his duties, railway minister Dinesh Trivedi on Thursday said neither Prime Minister Manmohan Singh nor Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee had asked him to resign.
"Neither has asked me to resign so far," Trivedi told reporters outside parliament house, soon after the government clarified in both houses of parliament that he had not resigned.
Trivedi, however, said it is his prime duty to ensure passage of the Railway Budget but he would quit whenever his "leader" Mamata Banerjee or Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asks him.
"The moment my leader asks me to step down, I will do so," he said.
Trivedi, a Lok Sabha member from Trinamool Congress, also noted that he would defend the railway budget that he presented Wednesday.
"I have presented the railway budget and it is my duty to defend it," he said.
Earlier, Trivedi told a Bengali channel that he would stay "at the border outpost" till he was replaced or asked to leave by Banerjee or the prime minister.
"I am a soldier. I will stay at the border outpost until and unless I am replaced. But if my prime minister and my leader (Mamata Banerjee) order me to go, I will go," the minister said.
"I don't have any fascination for the chair," he said.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee clarified in the Lok Sabha that the prime minister had not got any resignation letter from Trivedi.
Trivedi, who Wednesday presented the first rail budget hiking passenger fares, was summoned by Banerjee after he made defiant statements disregarding the party's diktat that he roll back the rail tariff hike.
Contradicting Banerjee's claim that the party was not aware of the decision regarding fare hikes, Trivedi said: "I had earlier given indication about it (fare hike). But I will not divulge any details of the discussion as I am a loyal soldier of the party."
Even as the 61-year old leader expressed disappointment over the strife within the party, he put up a brave face and stood by his decision on the fare hike and overall railway budget.
"It would have been better if I would have been criticised within the party than publicly. I think that then it would have been better," Trivedi said.
"I stand by my decision. The decision was taken to improve the condition and safety of the railways," he added.
"Whatever my conscience has said I have done that. I am proud of my decision. I don't have any regret," Trivedi added.
Mukul Roy, the minister of state for shipping and Trivedi's Trinamool Congress colleague, also reached New Delhi Thursday, fuelling speculation that he could be the next railway minister.