'Reformist' ex-rail minister Trivedi pushed TMC pullout?

The pulling out of the Trinamool Congress from the United Progressive Alliance government will see the exit of six TMC ministers. But the focus is on Mukul Roy, who held the important railway portfolio.

His quitting will mean that the railways will soon have its third minister in the span of a year. It appears likely that the Congress will now keep the railway portfolio, as there is no important partner left to give it to.

The railway ministry has been the fiefdom of the TMC ever since the UPA government was formed. It was first held by party supremo Mamata Banerjee, till her party swept the West Bengal elections and she took over as the state chief minister. She handed over the railways to partyman Dinesh Trivedi.

But Trivedi earned the wrath of Banerjee when he showed to gumption to increase railway passenger fares across the board, albeit by a small amount, in his railway budget in March this year.

Banerjee has always been against any progressive measure, including the much-needed hike in railway fares. In fact she often appears more left-leaning than her hated arch rivals in West Bengal, the Left Front parties.

Trivedi was promptly sacked by Banerjee and replaced by yes-man Mukul Roy, whose first act was to reverse the fare hike. Now he too is gone – in fact it was Roy who communicated to the President his party's decision to withdraw support, and said he was ''proud'' to be chosen for the job.

According to a Times of India report, Trivedi, who entered the black books of his party leader by daring to hike rail fares, bought his way back into Banerjee's favour by being the strongest advocate of pulling out of the UPA government over the reform measures.

Citing party insiders, the report suggests that Trivedi expressed discontent with the earlier decision to pull out the TMC ministers without actually withdrawing from the UPA. He argued strongly for a complete withdrawal of support, which is what has happened.