Opposition today demanded Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal's sacking and
his prosecution in the wake of CBI arresting his nephew for alleged bribery to
fix top level promotions in Railway Board.
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad even appealed to President Pranab Mukherjee to exercise his authority so that the Railway Minister is brought to book.
In a hard-hitting statement, he said the latest corruption charges in Government further "reinforces" their demand for the Prime Minister's resignation.
"This government is no more a government of middlemen.It is a government of dealers, brokers and middlemen, where every government decision is up for sale and you must be prepared to offer the price.
"Congress has reduced the government to a bazaar where every decision is tradeable. This is very shocking and distressing state of affair," Prasad said.
NDA ally JD-U, however, surprisingly backed Bansal, with party President Sharad Yadav virtually absolving the Congress leader of any fault in the case.
Trinamool Congress leader Derek O' Brien called the incident "retail bribery" as the scam had fewer zeroes.
Seeking Bansal's resignation on moral grounds, UPA ally Samajawadi Party said corrupt leaders should be suspended.
"The Prime Minister and Congress President Sonia Gandhi need to realise that it is the Railway Minister's nephew who has been arrested with Rs 90 lakh. Bansal should resign on moral grounds. Leaders, who are corrupt should be suspended," said SP national general secretary Ram Asrey Kushwaha
The CPI(M) today demanded the resignation of Pawan Kumar Bansal as Railway
Minister, saying he has to take moral responsibility for the "high-level
corruption" in the railways allegedly involving his nephew.
"Though the Railway Minister may not have any direct link in the matter, he has to take moral responsibility for this high level corruption involving his relative and the highest body in his ministry, the Railway Board. Propriety demands that Bansal resign as Railway Minister," the party Politburo said in a statement here.
It also sought a probe "to uncover the full ramifications of this case and prosecute all those guilty."
The CPI(M) said the arrest of the Minister's nephew, Vijay Singla, "for accepting a bribe of Rs 90 lakh from a Member of the Railway Board is a shocking and serious matter."
It is reported that the amount paid was "part of a deal for Rs two crore to get a new post within the Railway Board," the statement said.
AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, however, ridiculed the Opposition
demand for Bansal's resignation saying "those who are demanding the resignation,
have perhaps caught the disease of seeking resignations".
He noted that Bansal had himself called for full probe into the matter and nothing more can be expected from him. His remarks came ahead of a meeting of the Congress Core Group to take a view on the issue.
BJP leader Gopinath Munde demanded the resignation of Bansal over the bribery
issue and said his party will raise it in Parliament as well.
"His cousin has been arrested by CBI so the Railway Minister should resign and we will demand this in Parliament also," he said.
On whether CBI should question Bansal, Munde said, "CBI should inquire this at length, but before that he should resign."
Calling this as a "copybook case" for the prosecution the minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad said Bansal cannot absolve himself of the charges where his nephew has been arrested by CBI for fixing a top-level position in Railway Board.
"Therefore, in addition to demanding his sacking, BJP would like CBI prosecute him," the BJP leader said.
Prasad said each passing day is becoming more shameful for the government as the "Railwaygate" scam has come even before the "embers of 2G and coalgate are yet to subside".
The latest revelation is a "symptom" of the "serious silence" and "inaction" of the PM in taking action on several other scams and where the ministers are enjoying his patronage and that of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, he alleged.
Another senior party leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "one after another scam in which the Prime Minister and his ministerial colleagues are involved directly are coming out in the open. And the way this government is shamelessly using constitutional bodies to hide their corruption is coming to the fore one by one."
Former Railway Minister and Trinamool leader Dinesh Trivedi said the incident was a "very sad" day for Indian Railways.
"As far as this controversy is concerned, we have to wait till the truth comes out, but the fact is -- its a very sad day for Indian Railways and...I think the PM must step in to clean up Railways.
"When I was minister, there was zero tolerance to such things. Bansal, to my mind, is a nice, clean person. I will be very disappointed and surprised ...So I don't want to jump to any conclusion. Let's wait till details come out," he said.