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Mamata tells PM: Let Mukul Roy replace Trivedi

Kolkata, March 14 - West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday night to make her Trinamool colleague Mukul Roy railway minister after her nominee Dinesh Trivedi hiked passenger fares and refused to back off despite Mamata's strident criticism.

Sources close to Banerjee said a communication to this effect had been sent to the prime minister's office.

The incident comes at the end of a dramatic day that saw rapid developments beginning with Trivedi proposing across the board hike in railway fares for the first time in 10 years.

Soon after Trivedi finished presenting his budget, Trinamool parliamentary party leader Sudip Bandopadhyay lashed out against the budget and demanded a rollback failing which the party would protest inside and outside parliament.

"We want the government to rollback the fare hike. It is not in the interest of the common man," said Bandopadhyay.

Later, speaking at a meeting in East Midnapore district's Nandigram, Banerjee said: "Today the rail fare has been increased, we were not aware of it. Our parliamentary party has already opposed it."

"We will not accept the fare hike. We will not allow the fare hike to happen for the sake of the common man...We are totally against it. I can assure you this," Banerjee said.

In his media interactions in Delhi, Trivedi seemed in no mood to oblige the party leadership.

"The railways was getting into ICU. I have pulled the railways from ICU. And I have made the railways healthy. I accept full responsibility...I've no hesitation in accepting that neither the party nor the leadership was aware of it (the hike)."

In another interview to a channel, Trivedi said for him "the country comes first, then the family, and then the party".


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