Congress rules immediate action against Bansal, Ashwani Kumar (Roundup)

New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) Coming out in defence of embattled Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, the Congress Sunday said no action will be taken against them immediately, even as opposition continued to press for their ouster.

“There is a probe going on, let the result come. We will decide after that,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told reporters after a meeting of the Congress core group at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s official residence here.

“My request to all of you would be, since the honourable railway minister has welcomed the investigation, let the investigation fructify. I don’t think it is keeping in view with the of Indian jurisprudence to prejudge or pre-decide issues,” Tewari said.

Bansal’s nephew Vijay Singla was arrested Saturday by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs.90 lakh. The bribe was paid to him here Friday by two people for getting a senior railway officer, Mahesh Kumar, appointed as a member of the powerful Railway Board. Mahesh Kumar was appointed to the post May 2.

Apart from Singla, three others – Sandip Goyal, Dharmendra Kumar and Vivek Kumar were sent to CBI custody till May 7. Three more accused, Narain Rao Manjunath, managing director of G.G. Tronics India Pvt Ltd, Samir Sandhir and Rahul Yadav, were taken in CBI custody Sunday.

On Ashwani Kumar, Tewari Sunday said the matter is sub-judice and a decision will be taken after the Supreme Court’s decision.

“As far as the law minister is concerned, the matter is sub judice. As far as I know, on May 8 it will be taken up by the Supreme Court, if the government has to say anything, government will say it in the Supreme Court through its law officers,” he said.

The law minister has been charged with interfering in a report of CBI in the allocation of coal blocks.

The Bharatiya Janata Party meanwhile continued to press with its demand of Bansal and Ashwani Kumar’s resignation.

BJP legal cell in charge Satya Pal Jain, in a press conference in Chandigarh Sunday, demanded that the CBI should interrogate Bansal.

He produced documents to claim that Bansal and his family had close business links with Singla.

Party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad, in a press conference in Bhopal said they would continue to press for the resignation of the two ministers.

“We are putting forward this demand on behalf of the people of India. Whether it is Pawan Bansal or Ashwani Kumar, they are trying to save them because they know, as soon as these ministers are out, the prime minister will be in direct line of fire,” Prasad said.

Tewari however came down heavily on the BJP for demanding the resignations.

“Unfortunately if somebody starts suffering from a diseases called resignationitis, that they want everybody to resign, then that does not auger well for democracy,” Tewari said.

He also referred to the statement of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) convener Sharad Yadav backing Bansal.

“The BJP would be well served to refer to the statement of the NDA convener. Sharad Yadav articulated the position very succinctly. There for it is not as if there is a united opposition,” he said.

Yadav, who head Janata Dal-United, a key ally of BJP, had backed Bansal saying: “If any relative of a political leader is involved in corruption, then what is the fault of that leader. I have known Pawan Bansal for a long time. He has been in Parliament for a long time. What has he to do with anything if his nephew is taking bribe.”

Meanwhile demands for removing Bansal also came from withing the Congress, with former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s son and special invitee to Congress working committee Anil Shastri saying: “Morality has reached its lowest ebb” and drawing comparisons with his father, when he was a railway minister.

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