Bansal, Ashwani fate hangs in balance

Scam saga: CBI's fresh affidavit gives fresh ammunition to Oppn

Bansal, Ashwani fate hangs in balance

The fate of both Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Law Minister Ashwani Kumar continues to hang in balance as the ruling Congress’ top brass is yet to take the final decision on their continuance in the Union Cabinet.

A day after a core group meeting headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party sources said that as of now, Bansal had been given the ‘benefit of the doubt’ by the party leadership but the matter was still not closed. In the alleged case of vetting of a report of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by the law minister, the party leadership would take a final call on the continuance of Kumar in the Cabinet on the basis of what happens at the hearing of the case in the Supreme Court on May 8, sources added.

“While the CBI is investigating the bribery case against the rail minister’s nephew and others, we are also collecting more details on him. Bansal will again be asked to explain his position, if required,” a senior party leader said.

The party leadership is of the view that no actions should be taken against Bansal “unless and until” there is a clear proof about his involvement in the case in which his sister’s son Vijay Singla was arrested along with others for allegedly taking a bribe to fix a high level appointment in Railway Board.

“We sacrificed Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan for no reason. Till date nothing has come up against him. Now we are being cautious. The party will not take any such decision in a hurry. We believe that we have to give the benefit of the doubt (to Bansal) until things are proven,” the Congress leader said.

Bansal’s defence

Bansal has explained his position before the party’s top brass claiming that he neither had any business link with his nephew nor was he ever influenced by him in any decision. “Before you jump the gun, let us see the things develop. Kindly, be a little patient... There is a situation developing...Wait for certain facts to come. The key word (in the Bansal case) is allegation,” party spokesperson Renuka Choudhary said.

Despite an intense demand for the resignation of the Law Minister, the party stood by him. Kumar has so far remained firm on his claim that he did nothing wrong by seeing the report of the CBI on coal block allocations even as the investigation agency submitted before the apex court that ‘significant changes’ were made in its report at the instance of the law minister and officials of Prime Minister’s Office and the Coal ministry.

“We need to wait till May 8. After what happens in the court, we can sit and discuss it,” Renuka Choudhary said, evading a direct reply when asked if the Law Minister should step down or be removed from the Cabinet in view of the CBI affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court.

BJP protests at Bansal house

Activists of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), BJP’s youth wing, protested outside the house of Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Monday and demanded his resignation in the wake of his nephew’s arrest over post-for-sale scam.
The agitators turned violent and damaged barricades, forcing police to use water cannon to disperse the crowd, said S B S Tyagi, Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi).

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