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Trivedi's comment on presenting next rail budget raises eyebrows
January, 16th 2012

Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi has raised eyebrows in political circles by saying that he will present the next rail budget in Parliament.

"I can assure you this much, that I'm going to present the railway budget," Trivedi said when journalists, at a function with a Japanese delegation, sought to know if there was a possibility of him not presenting the next rail budget.

The assertion came against the backdrop of deteriorating Congress-Trinamool ties and speculation that TMC may withdraw its ministers from the Union Cabinet.

The timing is significant as the minister also chose to speak of possible revision in passenger fares a full two months before the rail budget is to be presented. The comment came as a surprise as right now, only preliminary budget discussions are going on. What was equally surprising was his comment that he will continue as rail minister and will present the next rail budget.

There are growing indications that Trivedi may have lost the trust of his political boss Mamata Banerjee. Trivedi caused much heartburn among Trinamool leaders when he was picked by Banerjee as railway minister ahead of them. Many in the TMC feel Trivedi has now fallen out of favour and K D Singh has started getting prominence in the party.

It was felt by many in political circles that left to herself, Banerjee would have preferred a TMC loyalist like Mukul Roy for the only Cabinet berth and the portfolio crucial for Bengal.

It is also said that Trivedi's elevation was more to do with Congress's insistence that the crucial infrastructure ministry could not be left in the hands of a minister of state.

Though TMC may not sever ties with UPA, speculation persists that Banerjee may pull out her ministers from the Cabinet in the backdrop of deteriorating Congress-TMC equations. Relations between the two allies have soured over several issues with TMC refusing to budge on its stand on petrol price hike, FDI in multi-brand retail, Lokayukta issue and renaming of Indira Bhawan in Kolkata.

It is clear in Congress circles that Banrejee wants to take over the entire non-Left political space I West Bengal, marginalizing Congress in the process.

However, Banerjee may not like to break the alliance till the upcoming panchayat polls in West Bengal. A pullout from the Union Cabinet may be the first step.

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