Barely had the Hon’able Railway Minister sat back on his chair in Parliament after a two-hour grueling speech, that the heat was turned on him.
Rather than focusing on the broad provisions, commissions and omissions in the Rail Budget, the focus and spotlight shifted straight to politics.
The nominal fare hike in passenger tariff announced after almost a decade of status quo was enough to provoke a volcanic outburst in the Trinamool. The party instantly made public its displeasure and announced that it would force a roll-back.
One would like to ask Mamata Banerjee and her loyal retinue for a pragmatic analysis on inflation in the last 10 years. From real estate to cars, fuel, aloo-pyaz and even price of salt, everything has spiraled, leaving just the common man’s locomotive untouched.
Is it really possible for the already ailing Railways to survive, leave alone thrive, without expanding income sources!
If I am not mistaken, I heard the poor Dinesh Trivedi lament, at least five times, that he needs greater budgetary support. He minced no words in drawing unfortunate comparisons with Air India and exhorted (more for himself than others) with old adages like ‘God helps those, only those who help themselves’!
But is Dinesh Trivedi, with all his lofty claims of “confidence in himself” and “God being his friend”, so wet behind his ears that he would have excluded Mamata from consultation process?
Mamata being Mamata would expect her emissary in the Union Cabinet, occupying the very position she once held, to ask him even before breathing out the word ‘Rail Budget’.
Does this possibly indicate that the entire opposition to the fare hike is stage managed? Mamata would have no face left that her own Minister at the Centre raised prices while she has been screaming against any sort hike in fuel prices all along. Or that Trinamool is looking for excuses to pull the rug and is using every issue to drive a wedge with the government.
It does seem bizarre that every time a policy is announced, its own allies bring the government to its knees with roll back or face the music threats (remember foreign investment in retail).
Or is Dinesh Trivedi genuinely “following the voice of his conscience” and defying party sensitivities?
While this seems like a remote possibility, there is a buzz that Pranab may have pressurized Dinesh Trivedi into announcing the hike if he wanted decent budgetary support from the central coffers.
With Mamata already miffed with Pranab da over economic package for West Bengal, Didi saw red with the tariff hike that would make the Trinamool minister look anti ‘Maa Mati Manush’.
Dinesh Trivedi seems to have put up a stout fight by proclaiming himself to be the Railway Minister of India and distancing himself from the party. In his owns words, “each party has its own ideology” and that cannot influence decision that need to be taken for the whole of India.
To address the safety issue, he felt the hike was inevitable. If we consider for a moment what Dinesh Trivedi claims on television is true, it is obvious that senior ministers at the Centre including the Prime Minister may be backing him to push Railways into a new era.
There are also talks doing the round that Trivedi has been out of favour with Mamata in recent times, and has made a calculated move thinking that his days in the Rail Ministry may have been numbered anyway.
Now, that leaves the question of what actually transpired as a very open one.