Pranab,not Mukul,set to reply to rail budget debate

Finance,Rly ministry officials in talks to work out reply

Written by Surabhi | New Delhi | Published: March 22, 2012 1:49:44 am

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is likely to reply to the discussion on the railway budget 2012-13 in Parliament even though new Railway Minister Mukul Roy has taken charge.

Roy was sworn in yesterday after his predecessor Dinesh Trivedi resigned when his boss and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee rejected his rail budget proposal to hike train fares and he dug his heels in.

“Mukul Roy is new to the job and does not know the specifics of the railway budget. The finance minister is a seasoned politician and more importantly is the seniormost cabinet minister. He knows the details of the rail budget,” said a source.

The government was earlier hopeful that it would be able to retain Trivedi until after the reply to the rail budget but Banerjee flew in over the weekend and got him to quit.

The finance ministry is understood to be working with the railway ministry to help prepare for Mukherjee’s reply,and officials from both ministries have held consultations. The fate of the proposal to hike fares will be known only after the debate.

“Last time there was such an event was in 2001 when Banerjee herself resigned as the railway minister of the NDA after the budget. At that time,her successor Nitish Kumar had replied to the discussion,” the source said.

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