M A I N   N E W S

Bansal faces heat over ‘railgate’
BJP guns for Rail Minister Cong backs him Minister distances himself from nephew
Tribune News Service

 PK BansalNew Delhi, May 4
The Congress today stood firmly behind Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who denied any wrongdoing and business links with his nephew Vijay Singla arrested by the CBI yesterday for allegedly fixing top-level appointments in the Railway Board.

Battling yet another crisis, the Congress core group went into a huddle this evening even as the Opposition increased the intensity of attack against the Manmohan Singh Government demanding Bansal’s resignation.

Mocking at the Opposition, party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said: “For those who are demanding resignation, it has become a disease”. He said the Railway Minister has already issued a clarification seeking a probe underscoring that the party could expect nothing more from him. On his part, Bansal distanced himself from his nephew. Reports saying that Bansal had offered to quit remained unconfirmed with the minister refusing to take any questions on the issue.

Grabbing the opportunity to step up onslaught against the already stressed-out government, the BJP demanded that Bansal should be sacked, while the CPM said though the Railway Minister may not be directly involved in the matter, he should quit owning moral responsibility Senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad called the “latest corruption charges” against a UPA minister reinforcement of their earlier charges against the “corrupt UPA government”.

“Each passing day is becoming more shameful for the government as the ‘Railwaygate’ has come even before the embers of 2G and coalgate have died down”, he said.

The BJP leader accused the UPA of working for dealers and brokers where every decision was up for sale.

“It is a government of dealers, brokers and middlemen, where every decision is up for sale provided you pay the price. The Congress has reduced the government to a bazaar, a very shocking and distressing state of affair”, Prasad said.

The Railway Ministry tonight asserted that it followed due procedure in appointing Mahesh Kumar as Member (Staff) of its board and no officer senior to him was superceded. He was the seniormost eligible officer fulfilling the tenure linked norms, it said adding that in connection with reports of his seeking the post of Member (Electrical), there was no relevant post vacant.

Oppn onslaught

  • The latest case clearly shows that the UPA, with its corrupt ministers, was working for dealers and brokers where every decision was up for sale, said senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad
  • Bansal cannot absolve himself of the charges since the top level position in the Railway Board, which his nephew was “fixing” for a price, came directly under the ministry he was heading.

For those who are demanding resignation, it has become a disease. Bansal has himself given a clarification demanding probe into the matter.
—Janardan Dwivedi, congress general secretary 

The bribery scandal

  • Mahesh Kumar, the then General Manager of Western Railway, asks Bangalore-based businessman Manjunath to secure the post of Member (Electrical) in Railway Board
  • Manjunath’s Chandigarh-based contact Sandip Goyal demands ~10 crore for the job. Goyal is also in touch with Vijay Singla, Bansal’s nephew
  • Kumar is promoted as Member (Staff) in the Railway Board; asks Goyal to get him additional charge until he becomes Member (Electrical)
  • Goyal asks Kumar to pay ~2 crore immediately and the rest later. Kumar asks Manjunath to arrange the money; the latter arranges ~90 lakh
  • The CBI traps Goyal and Singla with the money 





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