Distancing himself from his nephew arrested by CBI on Friday night in a case of bribery for allegedly fixing a top level position in railway board, railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal today said he had no business links with him and denied any wrongdoing.
In a statement, 64-year-old Bansal, who was made railway minister in October last year, claimed he has always observed highest standards of probity in public life and that nobody can influence his decisions.
He also sought an expeditious CBI inquiry into the issue.
"Regarding yesterday's (Friday) 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.
"I have always observed highest standard of probity in public life and look forward to an expeditious investigation by CBI in the matter", he said in the statement.
Bansal's nephew V Singla was yesterday (Friday) arrested by the CBI, which also held a member of the railway board 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 of railway board, a post equivalent to Secretary in Government of India.
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.
BJP had asked Bansal to explain his position in the case. BJP leader Ram Asrey Kushwaha said the railway minister must resign on moral grounds.
"PM and Sonia need to realise that it is the railway minister's relative who has been arrested with Rs. 90 lakh. We want them to remove the corrupt ministers in the government and Pawan Bansal must resign on moral grounds," said Kushwaha.
"It is very clear now that both the Congress party and the UPA government are corrupt. The government has no right to stay in power anymore. Both the PM and Sonia Gandhi are answerable," said BJP spokesperson Muktar Abbas Naqvi.
(With agency inputs)