Trinamul Congress chief and chief minister-designate of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee will resign as Union railway minister on Thursday. Her resignation will come a day before she is sworn in as the chief minister of Bengal.
However, the railways portfolio in all likelihood will remain with Ms Banerjee’s party. The Trinamul chief has already made it clear that her party would like to retain this important portfolio in its kitty.
While speculation on who will succeed Ms Banerjee as the party’s representative in Rail Bhavan continues, one thing is for sure. Ms Banerjee would like to appoint as her successor a person who enjoys her complete trust. Also, she would like a person who would be willing to take orders from her on what is to be done with the railways even though she would no longer be the railway minister.
Party general secretary Mukul Roy, who is also Union minister of state for shipping, Mr Roy appears to be a frontrunner for the post. Another name in circulation as a possible successor of Ms Banerjee is that of senior party leader and Union minister of state for health Dinesh Trivedi.
However, whoever it might be in Rail Bhavan, the pressure on him or her to deliver where projects sanctioned for West Bengal is concerned will be tremendous. Ms Banerjee during her two-year tenure as rail minister rained goodies for Bengal. Even on Tuesday, Ms Banerjee inaugurated some new trains besides laying the foundation stone for as many as 14 railway lines at the Howrah station in Kolkata.
This trend is likely to continue with Trinamul leading the state government, having ousted the Left after 34 years of uninterrupted rule. Besides, the Mamata Banerjee-led government will also be under pressure to live up to people’s high expectations now that they have voted the Left out of power.
So Ms Banerjee would like projects that were sanctioned for Bengal during her tenure to be put on the fast track. Among them are the rail coach factory in Kanchrapara and an electrical loco component factory at Dankuni.
Also in the pipeline is the Adra coach rehabilitation factory and a 1,000-MW thermal power plant jointly with NTPC also in Adra. Among the other projects in various stages of execution are the Shalimar auto hub, the Haldia diesel multiple unit, Budge Budge refrigeration container project, Uluberia track machine factory and the Darjeeling centre of excellence. Asian Age