New Delhi, Mar 15: Facing questions from Opposition over the controversy surrounding Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi, government today said he had not resigned but a “communication” had been received from Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee which was under “active consideration”.
The assertion by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the Lok Sabha came along with Trinamool Congress making it clear that it would not rock the boat and the government would continue its full term.
After yesterday's dramatic developments during which Banerjee asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to remove Trivedi for raising passenger fares, the Opposition parties like BJP, Left, JD-U and Akali Dal sought to corner the government in Parliament, asking as to what was the status of the Railway Minister as well as the Budget presented by him.
Contending that “unprecedented” situation had been created and a “theatre of absurd” was being witnessed, Opposition wondered how the government could function under “such kind of mistrust”.
Responding to these questions, Mukherjee acknowledged that “one communication” from Trinamool Congress chief addressed to the Prime Minister had been received late last night.
Without giving details of the communication, he said, “The Government has not yet taken any action on it. As and when the Government will take action, the House will be informed.”
To questions as to whether Trivedi had resigned, he said the Prime Minister has “not received any resignation letter from the Railway Minister....I am saying that the Railway Minister has not resigned.”
He said “as and when new information is to be shared with the Parliament and with the House, I shall be glad to share the information as and when the appropriate action is being taken on the communication received from the Minister or from the Chairperson of the Trinamool Congress.”
About the fate of the Railway Budget, Mukherjee said it is the property of the House which has “the inherent right to approve every proposal in respect of money and finance.
“They (members) have every right to decide what should be the shape of the fiscal proposals. This is for the consideration of the Government. This is for the consideration of the House. It is the property of the House.”
Owning the Railway Budget, Mukherjee said, “It is approved by the Finance Minister... As the Finance Minister I own the responsibility.”
He pointed out that the approval of the Prime Minister or the Cabinet was not required for it.
Amid pot-shots by the Opposition members, Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandhopadhyay underlined, “I want to categorically reconfirm that the UPA-II Government is totally settled and it will complete its term.”
He said “either the Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party or the Trinamool Congress has not ever asked Trivedi to tender his resignation. I would like to make that very clear here.”
Bandhopadhyay said the matter related to Trivedi was to be settled between Trinamool chief and the Prime Minister “because whenever any change takes place in a coalition government, the decision is taken after a discussion between the leader of the party concerned and the Prime Minister. Here also it will be settled in that way only.”
Trivedi was sitting in the front row in the Lok Sabha which is usually occupied by senior ministers and questions were listed against his name for reply during Question Hour. However, the House was adjourned before his questions could be taken up.
BJP and Left leaders described the situation as “unusual and unprecedented” and sought clarifications from the Prime Minister as it showed his coalition government in “poor light” and as “weak”.
In the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj, Sharad Yadav (JD-U), Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) and Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) had given notices for suspension of Question Hour and sought clarification from the government.
Speaker Meira Kumar disallowed their notices but allowed them to speak for some time.
Hitting back at BJP, Mukherjee said, “those who ran a coalition government for six years, how many times there had to be consultation with their coalition partners and in what manner. These gentlemen (of BJP), who are opposing me now, they know it much better than anybody else.”
He said the BJP “ran the coalition in the same way, perhaps in the worse way, than we are running. Therefore, let us not go into that.”
Attacking the BJP big-wigs, the Finance Minister said, “I am sorry these ‘constitutional experts' are behaving like petulant children. They should behave like leaders and should not behave like petulant children.”
In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said an unprecedented situation had been created as a minister who presented the Railway Budget yesterday had “now presented his resignation”.
His party colleague M Venkaiah Naidu said “inbuilt contradictions” had raised questions over its continuance and asked it to “get out” if could not govern properly.
Contending that the country cannot be run by a government of this kind, Jaitley said, “We have never seen how a government can function under this kind of mistrust... an extraordinary situation in the country. You can never have an unstable Government of this kind.”
Dismissing the government's clarification on the Trivedi issue, the BJP leader said, “What kind of a situation is it that you are enticing the loyalty of members of your allies? It is a theatre of the absurd...there is instability in the government. How can the country be governed by a government of this kind,” he said.