Mar 17, 2012 at 11:09pm IST

Rail Budget 2012 row: Trivedi defies Mamata; Congress remains silent

New Delhi: The Rail Budget fiasco has not just put the UPA in unprecedented embarrassment, it has also exposed the mess within the Trinamool Congress. Mamata Banerjee is now facing defiance within the party that she has never encountered before.

Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi on Saturday made it clear to the party high command that she will have to give him an order in writing if she wanted him to quit.

His defiance has come as a surprise for the Trinamool Congress. The party's chiefwhip in Parliament, Kalyan Banerjee on Saturday asked Trivedi to resign saying the Railway Minister "knows the party does not want him". "I had suggested an honourable exit for Trivedi," he said. "Before he is sacked, he can always resign. As a colleague I can always suggest him that. Then he told me that unless the chairperson gives him a letter, he will not resign. Question is when he became the Cabinet minister, at that time there was no letter from the chairperson," Kalyan added.

Meanwhile, Mamata Banerjee has renominated her rail minister-designate Mukul Roy in Rajya Sabha for yet another term to ensure his berth at the Railway Ministry.

Kabir Suman, a Trinamool Congress MP, however, criticised his party chief saying what she was doing was "unethical" and "undemocratic".

"Dinesh Trivedi has been honest throughout. He has not made a single negative statement, and this is the reward he gets? This is undemocratic."

Meanwhile, the Centre continues its silence on Trivedi's fate. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday refused to answer queries on who will reply to the debate on Rail Budget on Monday.

"I cannot answer on the basis of contemplation," he said.

Earlier, said sources in the Trinamool Congress, that the Congress had agreed to remove Trivedi as the Railway Minister. However, the Congress later told Mamata that sacking Trivedi would get him the sympathy vote and make him a hero.

The sources said that Trivedi will remain the Railway Minister for the weekend at least.

The sources added that the Congress had reportedly asked the TMC to wait till next week after the Prime Minister's reply to the Presidential address and Rail Budget in Parliament on Monday. They said that even as the Congress indicated to remove Trivedi as Rail Minister, the party had told the TMC that a mid-session swearing-in will give handle to the Opposition.

The fiasco

Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi came under fire from his party colleagues and Mamata Banerjee for hiking fares in the Rail Budget 2012.

Mamata has remained firm on replacing Trivedi. She has asserted that it is time for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to act on her plea to replace Trivedi with another party nominee Mukul Roy.

"I have already said whatever I have had to say. Now the government has to decide. Mukul Roy will be our candidate for the Railway minister," Mamata said during the filing of nominations for Rajya Sabha elections by Roy, the Union minister of state for Shipping, and three others.

Trivedi, on the other hand, knows that a written marching order from his party supremo will help him establish that he did not give up without a fight.

More drama is expected to unfold in the time ahead and it will establish whether the Rail Budget is dictated by the Writers' Building.

And here is something that could further strain ties between the TMC and the Congress - First class and AC fares are set to go up due to the increase in Service Tax as per the General Budget.

Mamata Banerjee has vowed that she will take up the hike issue in the Lok Sabha.

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