New Delhi: Dinesh Trivedi resigned on Sunday as Railway Minister ending his defiance and bringing to a close five-day drama after he incurred the wrath of Trinamool Congress for hiking passenger fares in the Railway Budget.
Trivedi (61), who had insisted yesterday that he would not resign unless his party boss Mamata Banerjee directed him to do so in writing, told reporters in Delhi that he called her up to confirm the real position.
"She did tell me that it was the party's decision that I must step down and since the party, Trinammol Congress, was instrumental in making me the Railway Minister and Mamata
Banerjee's instructions were very clear that it is the party which has decided and like a soldier I must obey the party's discipline. That is the way I have been trained," Trivedi said.
Trivedi's decision is understood to have come after a word from the PMO to him to quit. The Congress leadership and the Prime Minister had assured Mamata that her demand for
replacing Trivedi will be acceded after the presentation of the general budget on Friday last.
Nonetheless, there has been no confirmation from the Prime Minister’s Office of the acceptance of Trivedi’s resignation.
Earlier in the evening while talking to reporters in what seemed like a farewell speech, Dinesh Trivedi said that he had ‘high regard and respect’ for Mamata Banerjee. Clearing the air he said that the stalemate had arisen in the last few days because, “Sudip Bandyopadhay had made one announcement and there was another announcement. So I decided to talk to Mamata Banerjee. She gave me a clear cut and right direction.”
With the defiance gone, Trivedi added on a dramatic note, “I tried to do whatever little I could in the interest of the Railways and the country.”
Earlier today West Bengal Chief Minister said in Kolkata that she had talked to her party colleague on the same issue, clarifying that Trivedi had assured her of his resignation as per party wishes. Mamata has been very clear that she wants Mukul Roy to take over as the Rail Minister and she has conveyed the same to Manmohan Singh. She had virtually given an ultimatum to the PM, giving him time till Monday noon to take a decision on the matter.
"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 had said.
Meanwhile, Trivedi had been defiant all this while on the issue saying, “The Railway Ministry is no one’s property.”
Trivedi had on Saturday dared Trinamool Congress supremo, asking her to give him the resignation order in writing.
Trivedi’s reaction came when Trinamool Congress chief whip in Lok Sabha Kalyan Banerjee telephoned Trivedi and asked him to make a “gracious exit” and not wait to be sacked.
"Nothing will be given in writing," Trinamool Congress parliamentary party leader in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandyopadhay had told reporters.
Trinamool Congress has been gunning for Trivedi’s head ever since he announced hike in passenger fares in the Rail Budget 2012-13 presented on Wednesday.
After Trivedi presented his maiden Rail Budget, party supremo Mamata Banerjee shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his dismissal and replacement with her trusted aide Mukul Roy.
The development came after the party put Trivedi on notice that it may replace him if he does not rollback the hike in passenger fares proposed by him in the Rail Budget 2012.
However, Trivedi stuck to his guns saying he has done his duty and he was not afraid of losing his job.
Taking on his own party, the Railway Minister had said, “I am a minister of Government of India. For me, my country comes first before anything else.”
Dinesh Trivedi episode has created an unprecedented situation in the country's parliamentary history when a minister is sought to be removed even before the budget presented by him has been discussed in Parliament.
With PTI inputs
First Published: Sunday, March 18, 2012, 19:50