CBI chief Ranjit Sinha on Wednesday said former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal will be questioned by the agency investigators in the due course but no time frame can given at the moment.
“The investigation is still on. So I cannot comment on the timing of the questioning,” said Sinha in chat with HT.
Sinha’s sees the present debate on CBI’s autonomy as a life time opportunity.
“When I joined the police force in 1974, people use to talk about police reforms but after 39 years in service things have gone worse from bad. It is a life time opportunity to get the agency free from outside interference. We may get another chance after 50 years,” added the CBI chief.
Though not very overt, Sinha has a definite streak of independence in him.
He is not hesitant to accept that he is on good terms with former Bihar chief minister and railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and often visits him.
“Yes I know him and meet him even now. I am a Bihar cadre officer. He was chief minister of the Bihar and I served in his administration. Later when he was railway minister, I was the director general of the railway protection force (RPF). I also called him for annual ‘At Home’ of the CBI chief. I was told that it might create a controversy but along with all other politicians he was also invited. I have nothing to hide. The trial in all fodder scam cases is going on wherein he is an accused. The court will decide his fate,” says Sinha.
But was he soft on Lalu at the time of his posting as the DIG in Patna branch of the CBI in the 90s?
“I had asked the CBI headquarter to post me outside of Patna. Being a Bihar cadre officer I didn’t want to get associated with fodder scam probe. But nobody listened to me. It was very confusing time. The centre was weak and Lalu was a powerful regional satrap. Bihar was totally divided on the caste lines. I was made a villain by my powerful enemies in the state despite the monitoring bench of the Patna high court not even once making an adverse remark against me. I still believe things went little overboard during the investigation in the fodder scam due to some seniors who assiduously cultivated larger than life image,” Sinha sets the record straight.
After Lalu’s exit from the railway ministry, Sinha faced tough time in the tenure of Mamata Banerjee who was Lalu’s successor in the railway ministry.
“First of all I completed my tenure in the RPF on May 19, 2011 and Mamata Banerjee became West Bengal chief minister on May 20, 2011. So I remained in the RPF till Mamta Banerjee was the railway minister. But I had my share of problems. Mamata wanted Bangla to be one of the languages for the exam for recruitment the RPF constables. She didn’t like when I said according to rules only Hindi and English are recognised languages for the exam. Besides, she employed RPF guards for her security during election campaign in West Bengal. I was ticked by the MHA as it was not part of the RPF mandate. I showed the temerity to tell her that also,” revealed Sinha.
Besides the union of RPF employee, the All India RPF Association, the only central paramilitary force to have a union, also made a lot of noise against Sinha.
“I had taken on vested interest in the RPF. They came up with a booklet leveling all sorts of allegations against me but the union home ministry didn’t find anything against me. I raised objections on retired officials serving in the association. One of my subordinates also became part of the problem and circulated lots of rubbish about me,” added Sinha.
His candour is disarming.
He agrees with the Supreme Court that CBI has many masters.
“When I joined the police force in 1974, people use to talk about police reforms but after 39 years in service things have gone worse from bad. It is a life time opportunity,” says Sinha who in an affidavit before the Surpeme Court admitted that CBI’s status report on the coal block allocation scam was vetted by the union law minister and two joint secretary rank officers in the Prime Minister’s office and the coal ministry.
“I just wanted come clean before the SC when I was asked to file an affidavit on my meeting with the law minister,” said the CBI director.