Mamata to quit as Railway Minister tomorrow



New Delhi: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee would resign as Railway Minister on Thursday, a day ahead of being sworn in as West Bengal Chief Minister.

After her talks with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Monday, Banerjee had made it clear that the Railway Ministry would be retained by the Trinamool Congress.

"There are so many rail projects going on in West Bengal. So we would like to keep the Ministry with us," she had said after these meetings.

Banerjee, who assumed charge of the Railway Ministry in Kolkata in 2009, would also put in her papers from the eastern metropolis.

Though Banerjee has maintained that the Prime Minister would take a decision on her successor in the crucial Ministry, speculation is rife that Mukul Roy, party general secretary and Minister of State for Shipping, is the front- runner for taking over the reins of the Railway Ministry from her.

Significantly, Roy had accompanied the Trinamool chief at her meetings with Gandhi and Singh.

Besides Roy, the name of Dinesh Trivedi, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, is also doing the rounds for the job.

The new Railway Minister would face the daunting task of meeting the loading target of 993 million tonnes in the fiscal besides laying 1300 km new lines.

"The bidding documents for the proposed diesel locomotive factory in Marhora and electric locomotive factory in Madhepura are to be finalised on a priority basis as these PPP projects are crucial for the growth of railways," said a senior Ministry official.

The loan agreement with the World Bank for the Eastern Corridor of the ambitious Dedicated Freight Corridor project is yet to be finalised. "The loan agreement has to be expedited to complete the project on schedule," said the official.

Since Chairman Railway Board Vivek Sahai, who is also holding the additional post of Member Traffic, is retiring next month, these two important posts also need to be filled up in an expeditious manner.

PTI