No decision on Bansal at Congress core group meet
The Congress core group Saturday discussed the political ramifications of the arrest of Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal's nephew for allegedly taking a bribe to promote a railway official but did not take a final view in the matter, sources said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel attended the meeting.
Earlier, Bansal met the prime minister at the latter's 7 Race Course Road residence in the morning and apprised him of the issue, the sources said.
According to sources, the minister's contention was that he was being targeted for the mistake of his nephew and that he had no link with his relative in the matter.
Congress sources said for now the party leadership is buying Bansal's argument but would not hesitate in taking action against him in the future if the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe indicated his involvement in the matter. Before the core group met, Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi defended Bansal.
"The opposition has a habit of asking for resignations. It has become a disease for the opposition to demand resignation of ministers," Dwivedi told reporters.
The CBI Saturday arrested Bansal's nephew Vijay Singla and three others in Chandigarh for allegedly taking Rs.90 lakh from a railway official. Six people have been arrested, the CBI said.
Singla was accused of allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs.90 lakh from senior railway officer Mahesh Kumar for the latter's appointment as a member of the powerful Railway Board.
Kumar, who was arrested from Mumbai Friday night, was general manager of Western Railway until he was made a Railway Board member Thursday.