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Railway Bribery: Bansal Meets PM, Offers To Resign

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Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Saturday, 4 May 2013 met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and offered to resign over the bribery scandal involving his nephew in the wake of CBI arresting his nephew on bribery charges, reported TV channels.

Congress General Secretary and head of media department Janardan Dwivedi, however, told reporters Bansal has himself given a clarification demanding probe in the wake of the arrest of his nephew for allegedly fixing top level promotions in the Railway Board and anything more can't be expected from him.

Bansal drove down to the Prime Minister's official residence and was closeted with him for about 20 minutes.

Top Congress leaders are meeting in Delhi this evening to deliberate on the fallout of the arrest of Railway Minister P K Bansal's nephew in a bribery case.

The Congress Core Group, chaired by party chief Sonia Gandhi, is scheduled to meet at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence at 4:30 PM.

Besides Gandhi and Singh, senior leaders Ahmad Patel, A K Antony, Sushilkumar Shinde and P Chidambaram are members of the Congress Core Group.

The decision on Bansal is expected to be taken at this meeting.

A sullen looking Bansal drove away from the Prime Minister's residence without speaking to reporters.

The meeting comes in the wake of the arrest of Bansal's nephew Vijay Singla by the CBI in connection with alleged bribery of Rs 90 lakh for fixing a top level position in the government.

However, Congress brushed aside demands for Railway Minister P K Bansal's resignation saying it has become a "disease" of the Opposition to make such demands.

"For those who are demanding resignation, it has become a disease," Congress General Secretary and head of media department Janardan Dwivedi told reporters.

He said Bansal has himself given a clarification demanding probe in the wake of the arrest of his nephew for allegedly fixing top level promotions in the Railway Board.

"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 said in a brief reaction to the developments surrounding Bansal.

Bansal has distanced himself from his nephew, saying he had no business links with him and denied any wrongdoing.

Rs 90 Lakh Bribe
Singla was arrested in Chandigarh for allegedly accepting Rs 90 lakh in cash from Manjunath, the conduit of Mahesh Kumar, recently promoted as Member (Staff), Railway Board.

Kumar was allegedly trying to get a lucrative position as Member (Electrical), Railway Board.

Earlier in the day, Bansal had issued a statement distancing himself from the incident involving his nephew.

"Though a close relative, he or any other relative of mine does not and cannot meddle in my official function or influence my decision. There is also no business relationship between his and my family," he had said in the statement.

Two Courier Boys Arrested
Meanwhile, CBI arrested two courier boys, who allegedly delivered Rs 90 lakh cash as bribe to the nephew of Railway Minister P K Bansal, for fixing the promotion of a Railway Board member.

With the arrest of two delivery boys, the total number of arrests by the agency in the bribery scandal have risen to six which also include--Singla, Railway Board Member (Staff) Mahesh Kumar, middlemen Sandip Goyal and Manjunath.

All the accused are being brought here and would be produced before the Patiala House court. The agency would seek their remand for questioning at the headquarters.

CBI sources said crucial documents related to various railway projects besides records of Board discussions are among some seizures made from the residence of Mahesh Kumar, a 1975 batch Indian Railway Engineering Services, in Mumbai.

Senior officials said that bribe of Rs 90 lakh was a part payment for Rs two crore bribe allegedly agreed upon between Singla and Kumar for the lucrative posting of Member (Electrical) which is crucial for passing tenders of over Rs 2000 crore worth of Railway projects in the coming future.

Singla, who is a close aide of Bansal and was regularly seen in election campaigning alongside, had allegedly demanded Rs 10 crore for getting Kumar posted as Member (Electrical) which is considered next to Railway Board Chairman in hierarchy, the sources said.

The agency, which has received a tip-off about the alleged deal, had kept Singla and Kumar's phones on surveillance and were keeping a tab on all their movements, the sources said.

The sources said initially Singla had allegedly demanded Rs 10 crore of bribe but after negotiations, a sum of Rs two crore was agreed upon between the two.

When the CBI teams, which were on alert in Chandigarh, Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi, came to know about the delivery of cash, they nabbed Singla allegedly with the cash while others from their respective residence.

Senior officials said Singla and Goyal were arrested in Chandigarh for allegedly accepting Rs 90 lakh in cash from Manjunath, the conduit of Mahesh Kumar, who was nabbed from Bangalore, while Kumar was arrested from Mumbai from his sprawling Peddar Road bungalow.

CBI has registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the IPC against him.

Kumar was General Manager (Western railways) and promoted recently as Member Railway Board, a post equivalent to Secretary in Government of India, the sources said.

Bansal has said that he has no business links with his nephew and denied any wrongdoing.