New Delhi, June 6: Railway minister Mukul Roy today skipped a meeting of infrastructure ministries called by the Prime Minister as he was campaigning for a bypoll to the Mant segment in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh.
Mamata’s nominee went to Delhi today, cutting short Trinamul’s civic poll victory celebrations in Calcutta, ostensibly for the meeting. But he left for Mathura, some 150km away, soon after.
Officials close to Roy said he would return for the meeting after campaigning. When he failed to show up, the sources said he was “caught up” and would not be able to attend.
“The election campaign was pre-scheduled. The letter from the Prime Minister about the infrastructure meeting was received only yesterday. The minister tried to make it to the PM’s meeting but could not as the election meeting got delayed. The PMO was informed,” an official close to Roy said.
Railway board chairperson Vinay Mittal represented the ministry at the meeting.
PMO sources refused to read any political meaning in Roy’s absence, saying he had excused himself citing pre-occupation.
Mamata’s Trinamul has a good chance of winning the Mant Assembly segment, riding the local popularity of its candidate, Mahendra Sharma.
Roy’s absence at the meeting comes amid signals that the government would risk Mamata’s opposition to push reforms. Government sources said the cabinet taking up the pension reforms bill tomorrow would be the first such step.
The rail minister is scheduled to return from Mathura tonight and attend tomorrow’s cabinet meeting. How he responds to the government’s move remains to be seen, given Mamata’s opposition to the proposal.
The UPA has been trying to usher in reforms in the pension sector in the last two Parliament sessions but its efforts have failed because of Mamata’s opposition.
A Trinamul leader said: “The Congress might be ready to push reforms but our stand remains firm. We are not going to support anything that harms the interest of the common people, come what may.”