As Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi held on defiantly saying it was his duty to get the Railway Budget passed, Parliament was on Thursday rocked over the issue of Trinamool Congress’ demand for his removal which government said was under ‘active consideration’.
“The Railway Minister has not resigned. The Prime Minister has received a communication from Trinamool Congress Chairperson Mamata Banerjee which was under active consideration,” Leader of the House and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told Lok Sabha.
On replacing Trivedi by another TMC nominee Mukul Roy as demanded by party boss and West Bengal Chief Minister Banerjee, the Prime Minister himself told reporters outside the House that ‘if anything like this develops, we will consider it’.
Trivedi appeared defiant when he told reporters outside Parliament House that, “I have a duty to get the Railway Budget I had presented passed in Parliament. I will not runaway from my duty.”
“But if my leader Mamata Banerjee or the Prime Minister asks me to resign, I will do so,” he told journalists in a brief interaction without taking further questions.
Trivedi, who incurred the wrath of his leader by his proposals for an across-the-board hike in passenger fares, attended Lok Sabha and kept smiling when Leader of the Opposition raked up the issue and demanded whether he is still the minister and whether his budget is ‘alive or dead’.
Other opposition leaders also latched on to the issue and attacked the government saying it was coalition politics at its worst.
Sushma Swaraj wanted to know the fate of the budget which has now become property of the House and what the government proposes to do. Mukherjee hit back at the opposition, particularly BJP, saying “It is not unusual in a coalition government (to come across such problems).”
“Those who ran a coalition government for six years know well how many times they had to deal with the coalition partners….These gentlemen know much better than anybody else,” he said.
Mukherjee said as and when a decision is taken (on Mamata’s communication), the House will be informed. He did not disclose the details of the letter which was received late last night.
In Lok Sabha, Trivedi occupied the front row which is usually occupied by senior ministers.
Mukherjee’s statement came after an impromptu debate in the House with opposition members seeking suspension of Question Hour on the plea that an ‘unprecedented and unusual’ situation had arisen following the reported resignation of Trivedi.
Speaker Meira Kumar disallowed the notices of suspension of Question Hour but allowed Swaraj and others to speak on the issue.