With the Congress-led UPA bowing to the Trinamool Congress' pressure, its member and Union Minister of State for Shipping Mukul Roy was hurriedly elevated to the Cabinet rank and allocated the Railways portfolio on Tuesday, primarily to fulfil the constitutional requirement of passing the Railway budget, already delayed by five days.
At an urgently held swearing-in at Rashtrapati Bhavan, President Pratibha Patil administered him the oath of office. The ceremony was sparsely attended, among others, by Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Ms. Banerjee was not present
Trinamool's Dinesh Trivedi, who resigned as Railway Minister following differences with his party chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over a host of issues including fare hike, was conspicuous by his absence. There were no handshakes even as Mr. Roy thanked his seniors. Just a couple of party leaders patted him or acknowledged his greetings. The Prime Minister left the function immediately and Ms. Gandhi too avoided reporters.
‘I'll address issues only in House'
Mr. Roy said his priority would be safety, security and punctuality of trains but declined to comment on his party's demand for a rollback of the fare hike. The budget now being parliamentary property, he would address only in the House the issues he intended taking up.