New Delhi, Aug 3: A high drama was enacted in the Parliament House today with Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi holding official meetings with former counterpart Lalu Prasad and top officials in the corridor in the absence of a room. “It is an insult to the Railway Ministry,” a bitter Trivedi said.
Following interventions by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee as well as Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal, the issue was finally resolved and he was allotted room number 6 which has been the office of the Railway Minister for several years.
The matter was raised by Minister of State Sudip Bandopadhyay with the prime minister who instructed Bansal to resolve the matter. Bansal also spoke to Mamata on phone to inform her that the matter has been resolved. The controversy began yesterday when this room, which has been the seat of erstwhile Railway ministers Mamata, Lalu, Nitish Kumar and C K Jaffer Sharief, was alloted to Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.
But later it was learnt that it has been re-alloted to Trivedi yesterday itself. However, when Trivedi arrived for the scheduled meeting with Prasad this afternoon, he saw his nameplate missing. So he sat on a bench in the corridor and held meetings with Prasad and Chairman Railway Board (CRB) Vinay Mittal.
However, Trivedi clarified that the meetings with Lalu and CRB chief in the corridor were not in protest. “If my name plate has been removed the how can I enter the room. So it was (sitting on the bench) not in protest.
“I am not fond of any particular room. It is not for the minister's comfort but to facilitate MPs meeting in the Parliament House. It is an insult to the Railway Ministry which has 14 lakh employees.”
Trivedi said that he had yesterday drawn the attention of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Bansal to the problem.
Bandopadhyaya told PTI the matter has now been resolved after “I spoke to the prime minister”. He said he has also spoken to Bansal about allotting a big room for Trinamool Congress as it is the second largest party in the UPA.
Bandopadhyaya said Bansal has also invited Mamata to Parliament.
Bansal said the matter has been sorted out and Trivedi will now get the same room, which was occupied by Mamata. Three rooms on the ground floor of Parliament were vacant after the resignations of Mamata, Dayanidhi Maran and Murli Deora from the Union Council of Ministers recently. A decision was taken to allot these rooms to Cabinet ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni and Sushil Kumar Shinde.
Sources said that Azad and Soni were even intimated in this regard. Soni was to get the room number 6 occupied by Banerjee. Trivedi opposed the move saying that the room traditionally belonged to Railway Ministry and he should be getting it.
Bansal, however, made it clear that the rooms are not alloted on the basis of which ministry occupied it earlier. He has even explained it to Trivedi, who later took up the matter with Finance Minister Mukherjee.
The minister said that the problem got compounded by the fact that Trinamool Congress does not have even an office room in Parliament.
Sources said Banerjee's party was alloted a room on the third floor of Parliament, which is currently RJD's Parliamentary party office. However, RJD has not vacated the room. There are similar problems regarding the party office allotment to DMK, which is still being occupied by TDP. While the rooms for ministers are alloted by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, the party offices are allotted by Lok Sabha Speaker.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi downplayed the controversy and said it will be resolved soon. PTI