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May 04, 2013 at 12:52pm IST

Railway bribery: BJP asks Bansal to quit, says PM, Sonia shielding ministers

New Delhi: Attacking the government over the alleged Railway Board bribery case, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday demanded Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal's resignation and said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should prosecute the Union Minister.

The main Opposition party also alleged that because Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi protect their ministers, they indulge in corrupt activities. "This government is no more a common man's government. It is a government of dealers, brokers and middlemen. All decision of the Government of India are on sale," said BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad.

ALSO SEE BJP demands Bansal's resignation, TMC says sad day for railways

He also reiterated his party's demand for PM's resignation saying he has "no moral right left to govern India because under his leadership, India is getting established as the most corrupt country in the world". "Congress has reduced government to a bazaar, where every decision is tradeable," said Prasad.

He also requested President Pranab Mukherjee to intervene in the matter. "Within his constitutional rights, the President of India should exercise his authorities to ensure that Bansal is booked and appropriate actions are taken against him," the Rajya Sabha Opposition leader said.

ALSO SEE Railway Board bribery case: CBI arrests Pawan Bansal's nephew

The Congress, however, has backed Bansal saying he has already explained his position and there was no need for him to resign.

The Railway Minister has issued a statement distancing himself from his nephew, who was arrested by the CBI on Friday night in a case of bribery for allegedly fixing a top level position in Railway Board. Bansal has claimed that he has no business links with him and denied any wrongdoing.

"Regarding yesterday's incident involving my sister's firm in a CBI raid at Chandigarh, I have to say that I have no knowledge or proof about the matter at all. 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," the 64-year-old Union Minister said in a statement.

"I have always observed highest standard of probity in public life and look forward to an expeditious investigation by CBI in the matter", he added.

Bansal's nephew Vijay Singla was on Friday arrested by the CBI, which also held a Member of the Railway Board - Mahesh Kumar - in connection with alleged bribery of Rs 90 lakh for fixing a top level position in the government.

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) and trying to get a lucrative position as Member (Electrical). Kumar was arrested in Mumbai by a CBI team soon after he had flown in from Delhi. CBI has registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the IPC against him. The other person arrested by the CBI was Sandip Goyal, who allegedly assisted in brokering the deal.

Kumar was General Manager (Western railways) and promoted recently as Member Railway Board, a post equivalent to Secretary in Government of India. He will be produced in the special CBI court post on Saturday to seek a transit remand to New Delhi.

The Railway Minister, however, has not yet ordered any departmental inquiry into the matter. The Railway Board had recently appointed Subodh Jain as Member (Engineering), Mahesh Kumar as Member (Staff) and Arunendra Kumar as Member (Mechanical).

The post of Member (Traffic) is yet to be filled up. The chairman of Railway Board is retiring in June along with the Finance Commissioner and the entire Railway Board is expected to see new faces.

(With additional information from PTI)

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