From the MPs accused of corruption, the Congress on Wednesday indicated that it could re-nominate former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal from Chandigarh but not Suresh Kalmadi from Pune in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
"It is unfair to call Bansal tainted. The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is leading a diatribe against him but no charges are framed against him," party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters here. He gave a clear sign that Bansal won't be denied ticket.
Sources in the party confirmed that the Congress central election committee had cleared Bansal's name already but not announced it yet for Chandigarh in the first list to avoid a controversy during the big event of declaring 194 candidates. A second list will include Bansal's name, the sources have added.
On Tuesday, a special CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) court framed charges of criminal conspiracy and corruption against Bansal's nephew, Vijay Singla, and nine other people arrested in the `10-crore cash-for- railway-post bribery case of the time when the Congress leader held the Railways portfolio.
With a row erupting over the case, Bansal had resigned from the union cabinet. "He quit on moral grounds," said Surjewala, adding: "The Congress believes in not giving ticket to the leaders who are convicted or alleged to be involved in heinous crimes. Bansal is neither, and the ticket matter rests with the central election committee led by party president Sonia Gandhi."
The media should question the decision only when it was announced, said the Congress spokesman. Kalmadi (Commonwealth Games scam) and former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan (Adarsh housing scam), who have a similar case, are said to be campaigning for ticket to their wives.
"So far, neither Kalmadi nor any member of his family has been either given or denied ticket from Pune, so the question is hypothetical," said Surjewala. A senior party leader said on the condition of anonymity that the decision on fielding either Kalmadi or his wife was pending but he saw no similarity between the Bansal and Chavan cases.
"In every case, facts are put (before the central election committee)," he said.