New Delhi, March 20 (IANS) Trinamool Congress MP Mukul Roy was Tuesday sworn in as cabinet minister and given the railways portfolio in place of party colleague Dinesh Trivedi, who had to quit after his proposal to hike rail fares was bitterly opposed by party chief Mamata Banerjee.
Roy, former minister of state for shipping, was sworn in by President Pratibha Patil at a brief function in Rashtrapati Bhavan. On the advice of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she directed that the railways portfolio be allocated to Roy.
The prime minister also introduced Roy as a new cabinet minister to MPs in the Rajya Sabha.
Trinamool chief anerjee forced Trivedi’s exit from the cabinet following the rail budget last week. Banerjee had written to the prime minister that Trivedi should be replaced by Roy.
The swearing in ceremony was attended by the prime minister, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and several union ministers.
Banerjee was conspicuous by her absence as was Trivedi, whose resignation was accepted Monday. Most Trinamool MPs were present.
Roy told reporters that safety, security and punctuality would be his priority as railway minister but added that he would speak in detail only in parliament.
Trinamool leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said the new railway minister had the prerogative to take a decision on passenger fares.
While Roy prepared to take charge of his new portfolio, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took up cudgels on behalf of Trivedi and said Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee were equally responsible for the proposed hike in tariff.
Initiating the debate on the rail budget in the Rajya Sabha, BJP leader Balbir Punj said there was a “mystery” behind Trivedi’s resignation.
“Railways, the lifeline of the country’s economy, should not suffer due to the compulsions of coalition politics.
“Is it not correct that the prime minister and the finance minister had given their blessings to the rail budget presented by Trivedi? Should these two not be questioned,” Punj said.
“It’s like being lauded by the headmaster of the school, and then being rusticated.”