Janata Dal-United (JD-U) supremo Sharad Yadav on Saturday came to the rescue of Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal following the arrest of his nephew in the alleged bribery case to fix top level promotions in th railway board, and absolved the Congress leader of any fault in this case.
"A minister has hundreds of relatives and if one of the relations has committed some crime then what is the fault of Pawan Bansal in it and why will you harass him because of that? Pawan Bansal is here from so many years and he doesn't indulge in these sorts of activities. This is entirely a baseless argument (to demand his resignation)," Yadav told the media in New Delhi.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O'Brien on his part lashed out at the Congress-led UPA Government on the issue.
"We are feeling very saddened today because we have a great relationship with the railway family. We would like to say that one rotten apple in the railways will not make all railway officers bad. But look what has happened to Congress, the minister and the UPA. They have had underground scams, coal, they have had in the air (helicopter deal), 2G and they have also come on the rail. This is quite shameless actually," he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has sought Bansal's prosecution in connection with the bribery case, and demanded Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's resignation.
"We demand that not only Pawan Bansal be sacked, but he should be prosecuted by the CBI because under Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, if any public servant abuses his position to obtain pecuniary benefits for himself of any other person is liable to be prosecuted and convicted," said BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad.
" And the way the Railway Board promotion is the object of corruption in this case, pecuniary advantage by someone close to the Railway Minister, seeking that pecuniary advantage, abusing the authority of the Railway Minister is a copybook case of prosecution of Bansal. Therefore, in addition to demanding he be sacked, the BJP would like that the CBI must prosecute him," he added.
Prasad alleged that morality is no more a factor relevant in the UPA II Government of Dr. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi.
"I cannot invoke their morality quotient. But yet as the principal opposition articulating the concern of the common people, the BJP is duty bound reiterate that Dr. Manmohan Singh each passing day reinforces our demand that you please resign as the Prime Minister of India because you do not have any moral right left to govern because India is getting established as the most corrupt regime in the world under your dispensation," he said.
Congress Party today came out in out full support of the Railway Minister, and brushed aside the opposition's demands for his resignation.
Congress General Secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said it has become a disease of the opposition to make such demands.
"The Railway Minister himself has given a clarification and said that there should be a thorough probe into the matter. I don't think we can expect any thing more from him," Dwivedi added.
Bansal, however, earlier in the day distanced himself from his nephew arrested by CBI in a case of bribery for allegedly fixing a top level position in Railway Board, saying that he had no business links with him and denied any wrongdoing.
Bansal, who was made Railway Minister in October last year, also sought an expeditious CBI inquiry into the issue.
"I have always observed highest standard of probity in public life and look forward to an expeditious investigation by CBI in the matter," he said in a statement.
The CBI has arrested four persons, including the Railway Minister's nephew, V. Singla, for allegedly taking bribe to fix a top-level position in the government.
Singla was arrested in Chandigarh yesterday for accepting Rs. 90 lakh in cash from Manjunath, the conduit of Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar. Kumar was arrested in Mumbai soon after he arrived in the metropolis from Delhi. The other two persons arrested by the CBI are Sandip Goyal, who allegedly assisted in brokering the deal and Manjunath.
The CBI has registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the IPC against them. The CBI also carried out searches in Delhi, Chandigarh and other cities in this connection.
The CBI has got a four-day custody of Bansal's nephew Singla and three others in connection with a bribery scandal. The investigative agency on Saturday told the court that they need to find out the source of Rs. 90 lakh and who was the ultimate beneficiary. (ANI)