New Delhi: Decision on Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal's offer to resign will be taken by Monday morning i.e. after voting ends in Karnataka on Sunday evening and before Parliament resumes on Monday, said sources on Sunday.
Bansal had offered to resign after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested his nephew Vijay Singla on Friday evening for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 90 lakh to ensure a plum posting for Railway Board Member Mahesh Kumar.
Sources also said the Congress core group was likely to meet at 5.30 pm on Sunday to decide Bansal's fate. If his involvement in the bribery case is traced, party would prefer that he resigns before more damage done, they added.
Singla along with three other suspects was sent to four days of CBI custody in connection with the bribery scandal on Saturday. Other than Singla and Mahesh Kumar, Sandip Goyal and three others - who allegedly brokered the deal - have also been arrested. All of them except Mahesh Kumar were produced in a Delhi court on Saturday.
The bribery controversy reportedly also came up in the Congress core group meeting on Saturday, but no decision was taken on Bansal then. Sources had said that Bansal explained his position to the Congress top brass. The minister reportedly said he hasn't spoken to his nephew for a while. Bansal also said that he never discussed any appointments with his Singla.
Bansal, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence 7RCR on Saturday afternoon, had offered to quit over the Railway Board bribery controversy.
The Opposition has been pushing hard for Bansal's resignation. Alleging that because Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi protect their ministers, they indulge in corrupt activities, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded on Saturday that the CBI should prosecute Bansal. "This government is no more a common man's government. It is a government of dealers, brokers and middlemen. All decisions of the Government of India are on sale," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad had said.
Meanwhile, the CBI on Saturday arrested one more accused in the Railway bribery scandal. Rahul Yadav, one of the middlemen, named in the FIR, was arrested by the agency, CBI sources said.
Earlier on Saturday, two courier boys, who allegedly delivered Rs 90 lakh cash as bribe to Bansal's nephew for fixing the promotion of a Railway Board member, were arrested by the agency. So far seven persons, including Bansal's nephew Vijay Singla, Railway Board Member (Staff) Mahesh Kumar, middlemen Sandip Goyal and Manjunath, have been arrested in connection with the case.
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.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has reiterated its demand for the resignations of Bansal and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "As long as the Congress continues to be involved in such scams, we will continue to question them because the people have given us the opportunity. But the murky details of Pawan Bansal are shocking. Why has the PM allowed so many scams during his tenure? The blame would be on the Prime minister too. So we are seeking his resignation as well," said Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Ravi Shakar Prasad.
(With additional information from PTI)