Rail budget row: Congress keeps options open, Trinamool wants Trivedi out (Intro Roundup)March 15th, 2012 - 10:15 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, March 15 (IANS) With Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee adamant on the resignation of Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi and a rollback of train fare hikes, the Congress Thursday kept its options open for a compromise, but indicated that the minister’s removal will be difficult before March-end.
The row over Trivedi’s resignation rocked both house of parliament, with the government deferring the resolution of the crisis till after Friday’s budget and attributing it to the pulls of coalition politics.
Amid a raging political storm, the Trinamool Congress clarified that a decision on Trivedi’s resignation will be taken in consultation between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Banerjee. In a seeming respite to the beleagured Congress-led government, the Trinamool assured that it will not destabilise the government.
According to informed sources, there are two possible scenarios. Firstly, the government agrees to either a total or a partial rollback of hike in fares - leading to a truce between the TMC and the Congress-led government.
Alternately, the government sticks to the fare hikes, provoking a belligerent Banerjee to move a cut motion in the budget session, leading to the sense of the house being recorded and a vote taken. This will effectively mean a parting of ways between the UPA and the Trinamool, as the government looks for a new ally (possibly the Samajwadi Party, which has 22 MPs) to save it.
For now, the Congress is understood to have conveyed to Banerjee that the removal of the minister in the middle of the budget session would not send out a positive signal and suggested that the decision be deferred to March-end. Trinamool leaders met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and conveyed that the party chief wanted an announcement of the rollback of the hike to be done by a new railway minister. Banerjee is pressing for senior party leader and Minister of State for Shipping Mukul Roy to replace Trivedi.
However, the Trinamool denied any plan to dump the UPA government. A defensive government, got more breathing space after another critical ally, the DMK, also said that it too remained with the Manmohan Singh government. “We are part of UPA II and will remain with UPA II,” DMK MP T.R. Baalu said.
“I categorically want to say that the government of UPA II is properly settled and it will complete its term,” Trinamool parliamentary group leader Sudip Bandopadhyay said in parliament.
He added in the Lok Sabha that the Trinamool had not asked Trivedi to resign for presenting a budget that sought to increase rail fares for the first time in a decade.
Trivedi himself rebutted speculation about his resignation.
“Nobody has asked me to resign. I have a duty to perform and see that that the budget is passed by parliament.”
He added that he would go if he was asked to and gently contradicted Banerjee’s claim that the party was not aware of his move to raise rail fares.
The Congress put up a brave face, saying differences within a coalition were but natural.
“These things have happened in the past too,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters. “Each (coalition partner) has different political compulsions.
“It is unfortunate but the leadership is looking at it,” she added.
The fire fighting started after an explosive start to the fourth day of parliament’s budget session, with an an aggressive opposition determined to embarrass the government over the Trinamool’s strident demand that the rail fare hikes be rolled back.
Mukherjee admitted that a letter had been received from Banerjee demanding the scrapping of the rail fare hikes. After an unrelenting opposition forced an adjournment of the house during question hour, Mukherjee chided the government’s critics for behaving like “petulant children”.
Mukherjee also told the Lok Sabha that the railway budget was now the property of the house, which would vote on the proposals.
He also took responsibility for preparation of the railway budget, saying only the finance minister’s approval was needed and not that of either the prime minister or the cabinet.
Earlier, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj asked some pointed questions: “Is Dinesh Trivedi’s rail budget dead or alive?”
At a press conference, BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu lambasted the Congress-led government, saying it was falling apart, brick by brick, due to distrust with its key allies. “There is no governance. The foundations of this government are being shaken, brick by brick,” he said.
Ironically, support for Banerjee’s demand came from her biggest foe, the Left.
Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta said the budget sought to impose a financial burden on the common man and so was not acceptable to his party.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) too came out with a detailed point-by-point criticism of the budget.
- Rail budget row: Congress keeps options open, Trivedi set to go (Second Intro Roundup) - Mar 15, 2012
- Rail budget row: Congress steps up outreach to defuse crisis (Roundup) - Mar 15, 2012
- No threat to UPA: Trinamool - Mar 15, 2012
- Dinesh Trivedi will be told when to go: Trinamool - Mar 15, 2012
- Trivedi replacement a 'farce', says CPI-M (Lead, Changing dateline) - Mar 19, 2012
- Rollback of fares is PM's prerogative: Mamata - Mar 19, 2012
- Dinesh Trivedi sends resignation to PM - Mar 15, 2012
- Amid bedlam, UPA II gets some relief, courtesy allies (Afternoon Lead) - Mar 15, 2012
- Will replace Trivedi if needed: PM - Mar 15, 2012
- Will quit if PM or Mamata ask me to: Trivedi (Lead) - Mar 15, 2012
- Dinesh Trivedi speaks to Mamata, to quit (Second Lead) - Mar 18, 2012
- PM regrets Trivedi's going; Mukul Roy to be sworn in Tuesday (Roundup) - Mar 19, 2012
- Mamata gets Left support on rail fare rollback (Lead) - Mar 15, 2012
- BJP questions PM on Trivedi's ouster - Mar 20, 2012
- Want UPA but won't tolerate humiliation: Mamata (Lead) - Mar 19, 2012
Tags: beleagured, budget session, coalition politics, congress chief, finance minister, house of parliament, manmohan, manmohan singh, minister of state, party chief, party leader, political storm, pranab mukherjee, prime minister manmohan, prime minister manmohan singh, railway minister, rollback, Samajwadi Party, train fare, trinamool congress