Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi had promised a “revolutionary” rail budget to some of his cabinet colleagues on Tuesday. But his party chief Mamata Banerjee smelled a “rebellion” in Trivedi’s budget instead after he hiked passenger fare—allegedly keeping her in the dark—and left him with two options: roll back the hike or quit.
For the first time in the history of parliament, the railway minister’s own party opposed the budget and left him in the lurch. Many in the party believe, Trivedi will have to make a quick choice as Mamata Banerjee ruled out any compromise on her “pro-people” stand.
Trivedi, however, tried to put a brave face: “I have done my work as the railway minister. Now I leave the rest to the God.”
Although fares have been raised across all sections, a roll back in the suburban (2 paise per km), second class (3 paise per km) and sleeper class (5 paise per km) may mollify the Trinamool chief, sources close to her told HT. Banerjee reportedly sees these fare tweaks as anti-poor and anti-aam aadmi.
If Trivedi refuses to roll-back and puts in papers before the rail budget is passed, that would be another unprecedented event in parliament’s history. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will then have to steer the budget till its passage. The option of asking Trivedi to continue till the passing of the budget also remains with the PM. However, Mamata Banerjee may not agree to such arrangement. Poll: Is it time for Cong to part ways with Mamata?
A furious Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, who had repeatedly warned Trivedi against tinkering with passenger fares in the run-up to the budget, claimed that the railway minister did not consult the party before raising the fares. There was no direct communication between the railway minister and his political boss
“As railway minister, he has the right to take own budget decisions. But the fare hike is totally against the policies of Mamata Banerjee and the party,” Trinamool’s parliamentary party chief Sudip Bandopadhyay told HT after a livid Banerjee called him from Nandigram area of West Bengal and vented her ire.
Banerjee’s temper reportedly further soared at Trivedi’s praises for the finance ministry. Railway ministry got a loan of Rs 3000 crore from the government to tide over its immediate financial crunch.
“Trivedi may shower lofty praises on the finance ministry but that ministry has offered no help to make West Bengal a financially stable state.”
Trying to bring the Indian railway back on track, Dinesh Trivedi gets derailed in Trinamool’s political tracks.