PWD minister's fate hangs in balance
Delhi Public Works Department (PWD) minister Rajkumar Chauhan may not be able to hold on to his post for long. After Congress president Sonia Gandhi called chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Wednesday to "understand" the issue, sources said Chauhan's ouster now seems imminent.
In a meeting that lasted nearly 25 minutes, Dikshit briefed the Congress chief on the Lokayukta's order recommending Chauhan's removal for trying to influence a team of sales tax officials investigating a tax evasion case against a south Delhi resort in February last year.
The decision, said party sources, will now be taken by Sonia. With the party already acting tough on ministers embroiled in corruption cases, sources said Chauhan would not be spared either. Senior party sources, however, claim the Congress does not want to take any decision in rush. "It's not a big issue," a senior leader said. Moreover, it does not want to set a precedent of removing ministers merely on observations from Lokayuktas.
"A proper procedure has to be followed in every case," another leader said. "See what BJP is doing in Karnataka. Have they removed (BS) Yeddyurappa against whom the Lokayukta has passed strong strictures?" he added.
In his orders on February 24, Delhi Lokayukta Justice Manmohan Sareen held the minister guilty of "misconduct" of "grave nature" and recommended to the President of India to "withdraw her pleasure" for the minister to continue in office, as he had "misused" his official position.
Chauhan later took the plea that as a public representative, he gets lots of calls from people requesting for favours and he only responded to one such call. While sources claim that Dikshit had tried to defend the minister, Chauhan's luck seems to be running out.
With CVC investigating into complaints of corruption in various CWG projects, Chauhan being the PWD minister under whom all infrastructure projects for CWG were carried out, is already in deep trouble. Sources said the Congress is now waiting for an opportune time to act against him.