Railgate: Bansal offers to resign

Railgate: Bansal offers to resign
Highlights

CBI arrests minister's nephew Vijay Singhla while taking Rs 90 lakh bribe. Oppn demands Bansal's sack. ...

CBI arrests minister's nephew Vijay Singhla while taking Rs 90 lakh bribe. Oppn demands Bansal's sack.
  • Rail Board member Mahesh Kumar struck a deal with Vijay Singhla for change of post for Rs 2 crore and was paying first installment of Rs 90 lakh
  • Mahesh Kumar, other middlemen also arrested
  • Bansal offers resignation to PM, but Cong Core Group waits to see
  • the developments; meets again today
  • Bansal denies any knowledge, disowns his nephew
  • Rail Board suspends Mahesh Kumar
Venkat Parsa
New Delhi: After Coalgate, the Congress-led UPA Government has been hit in the face by the Railgate, following which Union Railway Minister Pawan Bansal met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and offered to resign. Later in the evening, the Congress Core Group met and discussed the Railgate. pawankumarPawan Bansal is understood to have expressed his desire to explain his position in parliament, as it is currently in session. For now the Congress has deferred a decision on Bansal's resignation, preferring to see how the developments will pan out. The Opposition, on the other hand, is however, gunning for the Railway Minister. Describing it as Cash & Carry Government, leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha said, "We should not be asking for the resignation. It should have come as a matter of course, as this is an open and shut case." He said that Pawan Bansal was criminally liable. The government was plunged into a fresh crisis, when the Railway Minister's nephew, Vijay Singhla, was arrested by the CBI on Friday for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 90 lakh from a conduit of member of Railway Board Mahesh Kumar. Initially, Vijay Singhla demanded Rs 10 crore from Mahesh Kumar, but later agreed to help him for Rs 2 crore. The CBI says it arrested him, while he was accepting the partial payment of Rs 90 lakh. In a related development, Mahesh Kumar was arrested in Mumbai. All the middlemen, including the kin of Pawan Bansal, involved in it have been arrested and investigations are under way. Recently Mahesh Kumar was promoted as Member (Staff) and was looking for Member (Electrical) in the Railway Board. Earlier, he was General Manager of Western Railway. Clarifying his position, Bansal said, "Regarding yesterday's incident involving my sister's son in a CBI raid in Chandigarh, I have to say that I had no knowledge or clue about the matter at all. Though a close relative, he or any other relative of mine does not and cannot meddle in my official functions or influence my decisions. There is also no business relationship between his and my family. I have always observed highest standards of probity in public life and look forward to an expeditious investigation by the CBI in the matter." Soon after his meeting the Prime Minister, Pawan Bansal called Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal, to discuss the issue of promotions and appointments in the Railways. BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "It only reinforces our demand that the Prime Minister should resign. This is a government of wheeler-dealers and power brokers and middlemen. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi have reduced the government to a bazaar, where all decisions are up for sale. We not only demand that Pawan Bansal be sacked, he should be prosecuted by CBI under Section 13 of Prevention of Corruption Act. If any public servant abuses his position to obtain benefits for himself or any other person, he or she is to be prosecuted and convicted." He accused Manmohan Singh and President Sonia Gandhi of protecting the Union Ministers. "New records of corruption are being broken under the UPA government," he said. AICC general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi, in a cryptic statement, said the Railway Minister had already clarified his position. The Opposition BJP, he said, was afflicted by the malaise of seeking resignations.
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