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Mukul Roy takes over as Indian railway minister

Updated: 2012-03-20 16:05
( Agencies)

NEW DELHI - India Tuesday got a new Railways Minister, Mukul Roy, who was sworn into office by President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhawan presidential palace here.

The 57-year-old Trinamul Congress leader, who had earlier served in the Railways Ministry as a Junior Minister, replaced his predecessor Dinesh Trivedi who resigned on Sunday over the hike in passenger fares.

Mukul Roy takes over as Indian railway minister

India's Railways Minister Mukul Roy stands to attention as the national anthem is played during the oath taking ceremony at the presidential place in New Delhi March 20, 2012. [Photo/Agencies] 

Minutes after he was administered the oath of office, Roy was asked by the media whether he would roll back the hike in passenger fares, the issue over which Trivedi had to quit as Railway Minister as his party, the Trinamul Congress, a key ally in the Congress-led central government, protested it.

However, Roy said that he would only speak about the rollback in passenger fares in Parliament.

India's state-owned railway network operates nearly 7,000 passenger trains and carries some 13 million passengers daily.

Trivedi raised train fares in Wednesday's railway budget by a maximum of 30 paisa ($0.006) per km, saying the network is passing through a "difficult phase" and the hike in fares is needed.

However, within hours of the announcement, the chief of the Trinamul Congress party, Mamata Banerjee, rejected the increase and sought the resignation of the Minister. She also wrote to the Prime Minister recommending Trivedi be replaced as railways minister by Roy.