On Thursday a senior cabinet secretariat official called up railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and politely asked him to consider skipping the cabinet meeting that evening. The message was clear and Bansal knew then that his ride was about to come to a very bumpy end.
On Friday, after meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi, evening, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the beleaguered minister to resign.
Days after media reports revealed the involvement of his key aides and relatives in the scam, many of Bansal’s cabinet colleagues continued to stand by him, believing his innocence. But Bansal knew he had little breathing room. In the core committee meeting last week, Bansal reportedly told Sonia Gandhi, “Madam, I have no defence, nothing much to say” when his explanation was sought.
During his six-month tenure in Rail Bhawan, Bansal routinely visited office in two shifts. But after the scam broke, he cut short his visits and didn’t go to office on Thursday. On Friday, he went to office for barely an hour, signed around 10 files—but just on routine matters. But before leaving for office, his family sought divine help by praying and sacrificing a goat.