NEW DELHI: Mukul Roy was sworn in as India's new railway minister on Tuesday amid signs the UPA government would bow to the wishes of a petulant coalition partner and initiate a partial fare rollback this week.
Roy, 57, was inducted as a cabinet minister just hours before a debate on the railway budget in the Lok Sabha and replaces his Trinamool Congress colleague Dinesh Trivedi. TMC Chief and West bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had insisted that the new Railway Minister should reply to the Rail Budget.
Trivedi quit on Sunday after the Trinamool Congress, a key ally in the UPA government, said it was displeased with his decision to raise passenger fares for the first time in eight years.
The unpopular policy step was cheered by investors but Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government was seen bending to the wishes of its coalition partner.
"The new Railway Minister … will have the onerous duty of carrying forward the challenging task of modernizing our railway system," Singh told lawmakers in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
Roy, junior minister for shipping in Singh's council of ministers, represents West Bengal in the Rajya Sabha, and had served as the junior minister for railways in 2011.