In trying to ascertain a quid pro quo and whether Bansal favoured suspended Railway Board member Kumar get his desired post, the CBI is also probing if Kumar superseded railway officers in the run-up to his appointment as a board member Sources say the three meetings that Bansal had with Kumar in April, prior to his appointment on May 2, are part of the probe The CBI has questioned Bansal’s personal secretary Rahul Bhandari twice. Bhandari figured frequently in the phone conversations with Singla that the CBI had tapped.
Pawan Kumar Bansal stepped down as railway minister on May 10, in the wake of his nephew Vijay Singla getting arrested on suspicion of accepting a bribe to arrange for the promotion of railways official Mahesh Kumar.
The CBI is currently examining files related to the promotion of Mahesh Kumar as railway board member (staff) and the allegedly “highly irregular” decision to hold the additional charge of general manager, western railway. The agency will examine senior board officials soon, said the source.
Bansal has denied any role in the case and welcomed the CBI probe into the bribery scandal, saying he had full faith in it.
The decision to drop Bansal was jointly taken by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Bansal was appointed amid much fanfare last year to turn around the ailing Indian Railways, becoming the first railway minister from the Congress party since 1996 and the first to raise passenger fares in nine years.