New Delhi: Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy is the new Railways Minister. He was sworn in at the Rashtrapati Bhawan on Tuesday morning; he replaces party colleague Dinesh Trivedi who resigned on Sunday.
It was mission accomplished for Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. Mukul Roy, who was the Minister of State for Shipping, is a close Mamata Banerjee aide and is said to have been her first choice last year for the important Railway berth that she had vacated when she took over as West Bengal Chief Minister last May.
Mr Roy’s predecessor Dinesh Trivedi has been lauded by the Prime Minister, Cabinet colleagues and industry for his bold Budget, in which he announced an increase in train passenger fares, the first in nine years. It was that move that also cost him his job. So upset was his party chief, that she first demanded his removal from the Cabinet and then forced him to resign.
Last week, Ms Banerjee promptly announced Mr Roy’s name as Mr Trivedi’s replacement, much before the latter had put in his papers. “Mukul Roy will be next Railways Minister. He has been a Trinamool MP for six years already. He has been re-nominated to the Rajya Sabha this time. He is a good worker. Now the government will have to decide,” Ms Banerjee had said. A firm sign of him being Ms Banerjee’s choice as the new minister became clearer after he accompanied her to New Delhi on Sunday for the party’s parliamentary meeting that was held on Monday. On Tuesday, Mr Roy visited Mamata Banerjee early in the morning before setting off for Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Interestingly, Ms Banerjee and Mr Trivedi came face to face at Tuesday’s meeting of Trinamool MPs – their first since March 9 when all leaders of the party had met. But despite the obvious estrangement in ties, the Trinamool boss told NDTV that Mr Trivedi “wants to continue with the party”. “It was a good meeting,” she said.
It was only on Sunday night that Mr Trivedi finally obliged her by submitting his resignation. For four days after she asked the PM to remove him, Mr Trivedi said neither the PM nor his party chief had directly asked him to step down.