New Delhi: As the CBI continues to investigate the Railways bribery scandal, more damning details have now allegedly emerged against Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal. Sources say the CBI is likely to interrogate him soon and a decision on whether he will continue in the government is likely to be taken at a Congress core group meeting tomorrow.
Here is your 10-point cheat-sheet on the case:
- Mr Bansal's nephew Vijay Singla was arrested last week for allegedly accepting Rs 90 lakh from a senior Railways official, Mahesh Kumar, who reportedly wanted a "more lucrative" posting in the Railways.
- CBI sources have told NDTV that Mr Kumar, who is also in CBI custody now, met Mr Bansal's nephew at the Railway Minister's official residence in Delhi on April 7 along with a middleman. Mr Kumar has reportedly also told CBI that 10 days later on April 17, he also met the Railway Minister in Mumbai.
- After the meeting on April 17, the middleman asked Mr Kumar to speak to the minister's nephew and gave him a phone number, sources in the CBI say. This number, they add, was the number of Mr Bansal's official residence in Delhi.
- Mr Kumar has reportedly also told the CBI that he later negotiated the "deal" with Mr Bansal's nephew during several meetings held at the Railway Minister's house. He has also alleged that Mr Bansal's nephew often used the rooms of the minister's aides in the rail ministry office. The CBI has reportedly already questioned Mr Bansal's personal secretary on why Mr Singla was allowed to use government office space.
- The minister's name has also allegedly been mentioned in several of over a 1000 phone calls that the CBI has tracked over the last few months in its investigation of the case.
- New information and documents available with NDTV also raise questions on whether Mr Bansal appointed his family accountant, Sunil Kumar Gupta, as a director of a public sector bank in 2007, when he was the Minister of State for Finance (Expenditure, Banking and Insurance).
- In November 2007, Mr Gupta, who admits to working for the Bansal family in the 80s, was nominated by the government as a Part Time "Non Official Director" in state-owned Canara Bank. In July 2010, he was elevated as a Shareholder Director on the bank's board. Four months later, the bank sanctioned a loan of almost Rs. 20 crore to Theon Pharmaceuticals Limited, a company started by the Bansal family in 2005.
- Mr Bansal has denied any involvement in the bribery scam. In a statement released last week, he said he "had no knowledge or clue about the matter at all." He also insisted that his relatives "do not and cannot meddle in my official functions or influence my decisions."
- Mr Bansal had reportedly offered to resign a few days ago, but top Congress leaders had decided to wait until after investigations in the case were over. The new allegations have, however, made it untenable for the minister to continue.
- The Congress' top leadership, called the core group, is expected to meet tomorrow to discuss both Mr Bansal's case and that of the other Congress minister caught in controversy, Law Minister Ashwani Kumar.