iconimg Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hillary Victor, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, May 27, 2013
  The loss of the prized railway ministry seems to have silenced Pawan Kumar Bansal in his hometown.
Some said the loss - triggered by his nephew Vijay Singla's May 3 arrest by the CBI for taking Rs. 90 lakh bribe for a lucrative railway post -- may spur him to deploy more focus on his Lok Sabha constituency, Chandigarh. But the opposite has come true. Bansal has not held a single public meeting since being forced to relinquish the post of railway minister, even though he used to hold as many as eight weekend meetings sometimes since February this year.

On the other hand, senior leaders of the BJP and even BSP are leaving no stone unturned to cash in on what is being termed the railway bribery scam or 'railgate'. From holding regular media conferences, distribution of pamphlets and holding creative protests, former MP Satya Pal Jain, Chandigarh BJP chief Sanjay Tandon and former union minister Harmohan Dhawan are demanding Bansal's resignation from the Lok Sabha too.

Further, the BJP has invited Arun Jaitley, leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, to lead its 'jail bharo andolan' (courting arrest) on June 2 in Chandigarh to protest the UPA government's "indifferent attitude" and to strengthen the demand for the MP's resignation.

As Bansal looks weak, and BJP sitting on a potential battle for the LS poll ticket, the BSP has already declared councillor Jannat Jahan as its candidate for parliamentary elections due next year.

Ironically, Bansal had already started preparing for the polls. Accompanied by wife Madhu and son Manish, since February this year Bansal would hold regular six to eight meetings with the public and party workers over weekend. Not only have there been no meetings since May 3, but actually two meetings scheduled in first and second weeks of May were cancelled.

Though Bansal remained incommunicado, BB Bahl, president of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee, blamed the weather for the MP's absence: "It is too hot to public meetings, but soon we will start a membership drive."

BJP leader Dhawan commented, "Bansal was very busy on Saturdays and Sundays since February, but now 'Mr Clean' has been exposed badly and lost the confidence to face the people of Chandigarh."