On March 3, at an exclusive meeting with Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Union railway minister and party member Dinesh Trivedi reportedly appraised her of the probable projects in his budget. But he remained silent on the fare hike.
On Wednesday, traveling to Nandigram from Kolkata, Banerjee heard that Trivedi has pushed the passenger fare up in all sections. Her initial emotion was a sense of betrayal.
Later, the impulsive leader told some party leaders that making Trivedi the railway minister was the biggest mistake.Two issues made her particularly livid: hike in second class, suburban trains and sleeper class fares and keeping her in darkness over the fare hike.
Hearing the other details of the budget, Banerjee quickly jumped to conclusion that it bore the stamp of plan panel deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and techno-expert Sam Pitroda.
The Bengal CM strongly felt that Trivedi, being a nominee of Trinamool Congress, should have kept the party in loop before presenting a budget that "violates the policies of the party." She even wondered: "Can Pranabda present his budget keeping Sonia Gandhi in dark?"
Sudip Bandopadhyay, party's parliamentary wing chief in New Delhi and some others in Kolkata were quickly contacted. Orders were issued to oppose the Budget. Rajya Sabha MP Derek O Brien was also permitted to tweet against Trivedi.
Before she started her return journey to Kolkata, a furious Banerjee made up her mind to "teach Trivedi a lesson". Her special secretary Gautam Sanyal was asked to prepare a draft of the letter to PM, which she signed at her home and got quickly dispatched through fax.
Top Trinamool sources claimed a mild hike in the upper classes of express trains or in the likes of Rajdhani and Shatabdis might have been acceptable to Banerjee but as Trivedi didn't spare any class, Banerjee upped the ante and decided for a complete rollback.
The letter to PM, apart from asking to appoint Mukul Roy in the cabinet, also "assured" that the rail budget will be passed with "minor modifications".