Bansal likely to quit

New Delhi, May 10 (IANS) There was little hope of Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal continuing in the cabinet after the Congress leadership decided he should go, party sources said Friday.

Bansal, under a cloud after his nephew was arrested by the CBI for accepting a bribe of Rs.90 lakh for getting a plum Railway Board post to a senior official, is believed to have been asked by the Congress leadership to step down, the sources said.

The indication that Bansal’s fate was sealed came Friday when Congress spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das told reporters: “We will not tolerate if anybody is found mired in corruption.”

Amid intense speculation over Bansal’s fate, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his official residence in the evening.

Labour Minister Mallikarjuna Kharge is tipped to be the next railway minister, said the sources.

According to informed sources, the Congress had planned an exit for Bansal as well as Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, under fire for interfering in the work of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a coal block allocation probe, in a minor cabinet reshuffle being planned over the next few days.

While Bansal is set to lose a cabinet berth, Ashwani Kumar may be moved to a less significant ministry, said the sources.

The Congress, which successfully snatched Karnataka from the BJP on the anti-corruption plank, did not want to send out a wrong signal by showing it was soft on corruption, the sources said.

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