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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014

Cong top brass to meet tomorrow; Bansal, Kumar's fate to be decided

PTI  New Delhi, May 10, 2013
First Published: 13:58 IST(10/5/2013) | Last Updated: 18:27 IST(10/5/2013)

A meeting of the Congress top brass is scheduled for Saturday evening amid talk that a decision on the removal of railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and shifting of beleaguered law minister Ashwani Kumar is on the cards.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi will be deliberating on the matter as pressure mounts for the removal of Bansal.

Kumar may be shifted to a different portfolio in the possible reshuffle of the Union Cabinet.

Congress spokespersons have been maintaining that government is "seized" of the matter of continuance of Bansal and Kumar.

Significantly, Bansal skipped a meeting of the Union Cabinet on Friday evening, that added grist to the mill that he could be on his way out.

The Railway minister's nephew Vijay Singla has been arrested for allegedly trying to fix promotion for a member in the Railway Board.

Bansal's woes mounted when the CBI questioned his private secretary Rahul Bhandari, a 1997-batch IAS officer from Punjab cadre, in connection with the alleged Rs. 10 crore bribery scandal. Bansal has denied any wrongdoing by him claiming that he has no business links with Singla.

Bansal is trying to drum up support for himself with four railway unions described him as an efficient administrator who is trying to put railways back on track financially.

Amidst these developments, there was a talk about reshuffle of the Union Cabinet shortly in which Bansal could be dropped and Kumar shifted to some other portfolio.

Kumar is under attack for vetting CBI report on coal block allocation scam, with the Supreme Court making critical observations over it.

The apex court had made a reference to the Law Minister's role in vetting the probe report and asked, "does it not subvert the integrity of the investigation if changes are brought in status report on the suggestion of Law Minister and government officers."

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