Bansal, family, associates battle nepotism charges

Chandigarh: Embattled Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is facing fresh heat after revelations that his family, relatives and close associates benefited from official largesse, informed sources say.

The sources with access to information with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) say a number of Bansal relatives and associates are under the scanner as their fortunes appear to have grown phenomenally along with Bansal’s political ascendency.

Bansal, a Lok Sabha member from Chandigarh, has until now enjoyed the image of a clean and low-profile politician.

Bansal has been in the thick of a controversy after the CBI arrested his nephew (sister’s son) Vijay Singla from Chandigarh last week on charges of accepting a bribe of Rs.90 lakh from a top railway official to get him a lucrative job as a Railway Board member.

The CBI has made 10 arrests in this case.

At the centre of the latest controversy of conflict of interest involving Bansal are loans extended to two companies, Theon Pharmaceuticals and Mirage Infra, by the state-run Canara Bank in recent years, the sources told.

The total value of the loans extended to the companies, one of which has Bansal’s family members including wife Madhu Bansal, sons Amit and Manish and daughters-in-law, is over Rs.100 crore.

The loans were extended to the companies after Bansal appointed his chartered accountant, Sunil Kumar Gupta, as a director of Canara Bank in 2007.

Bansal, at that time, was the minister of state for finance in the UPA-I government in charge of banking and insurance.

While the loan amount for Theon Pharmaceuticals was raised up to nearly Rs.60 crore, Mirage Infra was straightaway given a loan of Rs.40 crore by the bank in 2008 despite not having any running business.

Mirage Infra has Bansal’s controversial nephew Vijay Singla and other relatives as directors. The company is setting up a mall-cum-hotel project at a prime location in Chandigarh’s industrial area.

The building of this project has been allegedly constructed without the mandatory environment clearance.

Gupta, incidentally, is on the board of directors of companies run by Bansal’s sons and close relatives.

These include the Bansi Raunaq Energy Group in which some directors and shareholders have given their address as house no. 64, Sector 28-A, Chandigarh.

The is the residence of Minister Bansal in Chandigarh.

The fortunes of Theon Pharmaceuticals, set up in 2007, grew phenomenally. From a nil turnover at the start, the company notched up a turnover of Rs.152 crore last year.

The company has Bansal’s wife, sons and daughters-in-law on the board of directors.

“Bansal should be immediately sacked from the cabinet and interrogated by the CBI,” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and lawyer Satya Pal Jain told.

Bansal was inducted as a minister of state for finance in the central government in January 2006 and remained as such till May 2009.

In April 2008, he was also made the minister of state for parliamentary affairs.

Following the 2009 Lok Sabha election, Bansal was elevated as a cabinet minister.

He headed various ministries like water resources, parliamentary affairs, science and technology and earth sciences before being made the railway minister in October last year.


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