NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday reportedly agreed to accept Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi's resignation as Railway Minister, after the latter's party chief Mamata Banerjee demanded that the minister be sacked for hiking train fares, and be replaced by Mukul Roy. Sources say that Roy may be sworn into the Cabinet on Saturday or Sunday, after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee tables his Budget on Friday.
Roy is presently in Delhi to join Trinamool Congress MPs on a dharna to demand a total rollback of the train fares.
The Congress, while ruling out a complete roll-back of the train fares, has reportedly agreed to a partial roll-back of fares.
The entire incident is unprecedented: The Railway Minister being sacked hours after presenting the rail budget, before the House even debates it.
Said Roy, as reports started pouring in of Trivedi having sent in his resignation to the prime minister, "I have nothing to say. The party will speak. The party is going to sit on a demonstration in front of the Gandhi statue."
He added, "I am a member of Parliament. I am going to join the demonstration."
Mukul Roy: A trusted loyalist of Mamata
- Roy, the general secretary of the Trinamool Congress, is seen by many as a trusted lieutenant of Mamata Banerjee.
- He is to be re-nominated later in March to Rajya Sabha.
- Roy was Minister of State for Railways during the twin train disasters in Guwahati last year. He had famously ignored Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's directive to go to the site and stayed with Mamata instead, adding that the Railways was the PM's job, "ask PM".
- As Minister of State for Shipping, he was largely a minister in absentia, seen more in Kolkata than in his Delhi office.