24 May : New Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has said her priority in the ministry would be to provide "economic freedom" to marginalised sections of the society to travel by rail and take up modernisation with "a human face".
Mamata said her ministry would contemplate providing monthly travel passes for unorganised labour, vendors, domestic workers and landless labourers besides students at a nominal cost and the technicalities would be worked out later.
"It is a social obligation we have to fulfill for the humanity. We will try to give economy freedom to these sections for train travel," Banerjee told reporters hours after she was given the Railway portfolio on Saturday.
"One cannot sacrifice the human face for commercial interest," she added.Indicating that five more MPs from Trinamool Congress would be inducted in the government, Mamata said she would take charge of the ministry only after "other ministers" were sworn-in."I am not taking charge right now as other members are yet to take oath. We are like family and I cannot dissociate from them," Banerjee said.On being asked about her plans regarding programmes and projects launched by her predecessors, she said, "I respect all my predecessors and I would not like to comment on them".
To a question about her focus on West Bengal, she said the electorate has given a mandate against the Left Front. "Ours struggle will continue," Banerjee said.
Asked whether she was happy about getting railway ministry, she said, "I am happy only about our grassroot level movement and our performance in West Bengal."
Trinamool leader also said she is not bargaining for portfolios. "I am not for bargaining. We have come here after so much of struggle."