Trivedi says PM would have retained him

New Delhi: Former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi, who was forced to quit over raising fares, today claimed that the Prime Minister would have preferred to retain him in the Cabinet even if it meant losing Trinamool Congress` support but he resigned to save government from the trouble.

Trivedi, a TMC MP who was removed from the Railway Ministry at the behest of party chief Mamata Banerjee for raising passenger fares in the Rail budget, remained evasive on joining Congress.

Speaking to Karan Thapar for CNN-IBN`s Devil`s Advoate programme, Trivedi claimed that the Prime Minister would have never asked him to resign had he not intended to do so.

He said "yes" when asked if the Prime Minister would have preferred to retain him at the cost of losing Trinamool Congress` support and the government possibly collapsing. "It`s a fact," he said when asked if people will not get "flabbergasted" by his comments.

Referring to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s statement in Parliament that he "regretted" his resignation, Trivedi said he was "communicated" that the PM would have never asked for his resignation. "Let`s not get into details," he said when asked if the communication came from a reliable person. "I am not going to talk about things at all. If I say something, I stand by it."

Trivedi also dismissed suggestion that he resigned after getting indications from the PMO and the Congress party and insisted he stepped down to avoid putting the goverment into any uncertainty. "There is no way…no indication from any quarter. And the Congress party would never have asked neither the PM would have asked…if I had not resigned on that particular evening (last Sunday), I could have brought uncertainty to government itself and that is not my job," he said.

He said he tendered his resignation because his party TMC and its leader Mamata Banerjee had asked him to do so. To a pointed question if he would join Congress, Trivedi remained evasive but said "I take life as it comes. Politics for me is not a career."

Trivedi, who earned the wrath of his party chief Mamata Banerjee for raising fares, ruled out any provocation he would have caused to her by suggesting that he had pulled the Railways out of ICU.

He said his Budget speech was broadly based on vision 2020, formulated by Mamata, which seeks Rs 14 lakh crore for Railway modernisation, and to achieve this he had raised fares. "It was not Mamata Banerjee who was responsible for putting Railways into ICU. It was going on for last many many years. She gave vision 2020…. I raised freight and passenger fares," he said.

He also avoided replying to a question on whether the PM, the Finance Minister or the Congress party were informed that Mamata was unaware about the fare hike, saying "I don`t have to really answer things which are in the domain of governance. That are certain things which I am under oath."

Asked why he did not inform about his decision to increase fares to Mamata even as he had conveyed to bureaucrats close to her, he said it was "his prerogative". But he hastened to add, "I don`t have to tell you about the internal affairs of my party. I do things my way".

Asked if he had resorted to a political suicide by raising the fares, Trivedi said he took the step in the larger interest of the country and the railways. "As far as people are concerned, they know what I have done."