Dinesh Trivedi, who initially looked set to enter the annals of history as the first Railway Minister to lose his job within a day of delivering a railway budget, managed to see through the day without losing his post.
A confident Trivedi, despite Mamata Banerjee’s letter to the Prime Minister seeking his removal from the ministerial post, attended Parliament and watched with bemusement as members of the opposition raised an uproar over reports that he had been forced to resign.
Opposition leaders like Sushma Swaraj questioned the government over the validity of the rail budget delivered by Trivedi yesterday and whether the Railway Minister had resigned.
However, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee put all doubts to rest and said, “The Prime Minister has not received any resignation letter from the Railway Minister... I am saying that the Railway Minister has not resigned."
Mukherjee acknowledged that a ‘communication’ from Trinamool Congress chief addressed to the PM had been received late last night.
Without giving details, he said, "The government has not yet taken any action on it. As and when the Government will take action, the House will be informed."
The FM, who asked opposition MPs attempting to shout him down not to act like ‘petulant children’, said, “The railway budget is approved by the Finance Minister... As the Finance Minister I own the responsibility.”
He found an unlikely ally in Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Bandhopadhyay who said that the UPA-II government was totally settled and would complete its term.
Neither the Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party nor the Trinamool Congress has ever asked Trivedi to tender his resignation, he said.
A calm Trivedi spoke with reporters outside Parliament and said that nobody had asked for his resignation, but if Mamata Banerjee or the Prime Minister did he would quit.
“It is my duty to get the Rail Budget passed and I will not run away from it,” Trivedi said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was non-committal and said the government will “consider” replacing Dinesh Trivedi with Mukul Roy, as demanded by Mamata, if such a situation develops.
When asked when he would consider replacing Trivedi after the demand made by Banerjee, Singh said,”Well, if anything like this develops, we will consider it.”
However, how much longer Trivedi will last is anyone’s guess with some predicting his successor could be appointed by this weekend. Trivedi had invited his party's ire by raising railway passenger fares for the firs t
“No one is above party discipline. Dinesh Trivedi did not consult me or Mukul Roy (the party all India general secretary),” party insiders quoted Banerjee telling the Trinamool Congress Legislature Party meeting.