Mukul Roy, MoS for railways, is defiant. Even after prime minister Manmohan Singh asked him on Monday to visit the railway accident site in Assam, Roy remained non-committal.
Trinamool insiders, however, say Roy’s indifference stems from the fact that he has lost out to party colleague Dinesh Trivedi in the race for a cabinet berth.
When Singh announces his new cabinet today, Trivedi would most likely be the new railway minister. Roy is Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee’s trusted lieutenant and is the second-in-command in the party. But Banerjee, if sources are to be believed, wants to reward Trivedi for his hard work during the West Bengal assembly polls by making him the minister; and she wants Roy, a key strategist, by her side in the state.
But all this has not gone down well with Roy. Immediately after the Kalka Mail accident in UP on Sunday, he said there was no need for him to visit the accident site. Also, he was just an MoS while the PM was holding the railways portfolio, he pointed out.
While TV channels played up his “callous” comments and opposition parties criticised him, an upset prime minister directed him on Monday to visit Assam where the Puri-Guwahati Express had derailed following an explosion on the tracks.
But Roy told reporters on Monday, “There is no need for me to go to the accident site now. I am not the railways minister, the prime minister is.”
Roy, MoS for shipping, was given the additional charge of railways after Mamata Banerjee quit the railway minister’s post to take charge of West Bengal as the chief minister.
The move was based on an agreement between the Congress and the Trinamool that Roy would be elevated to the rank of a cabinet minister.
Party insiders say Banerjee recently changed her decision because she felt Roy’s presence in the state would help her implement the promised changes.
Though Roy has upset the PM and he might have embarrassed his party chief, Banerjee can do little in terms of chastising him. Roy, a powerful figure in Trinamool, is credited with playing a key role in ousting the Left Front from power in Bengal and charting Banerjee’s historic victory.
(With Mayank Aggarwal’s inputs)