Sunday, May 5, 2013

RAILWAY POSTING SCAM: CBI was sure of netting big fish

Took Cash-Counting Machine To Raid Singla’s Residence, Office
New Delhi: The CBI was so confident of a big haul that its team went with a cash-counting machine to residence and office of railway minister Pawan Bansal’s nephew Vijay Singla on Friday.

The agency had recovered Rs 90 lakh from Singla, a key accused in “cash-for-promotion” scam.

The phone tap and continuous surveillance led the agency to Singla’s residence in Chandigarh just as the money was being handed over to him on behalf of Manjunath and others.

The original deal was brokered by Singla’s close friend in Chandigarh, Sandeep Goyal, and Manjunath, who acted as conduit for Mahesh Kumar, who was eyeing the post of member (electrical). Initially, an alleged bribe of Rs 10 crore was offered, but later it was scaled down when Kumar was made a member (staff).

CBI found that Manjunath, a railway contractor and promoter of GG Tronic Ltd based in Bengaluru, was well known to Kumar for several years.

Sources said Manjunath and Kumar were not happy with the post of member (staff) and wanted the more lucrative post of member (electrical). Even after Kumar was appointed member (staff), Manjunath was pushing Goyal to ensure Kumar gets the signal and telecom portfolio that falls under the jurisdiction of member (electrical).

The telephone calls of Singla, Goyal, Manjunath, Kumar and others were being monitored for the last few days before the CBI decided to make the arrests.

Sources said the conversations have revealed that talks were on for a lateral shift of Kumar as member (electrical) after the current incumbent was made chairman railway board, Vinay Mittal, who is slated to retire next month.

Manjunath, a key conduit for Kumar, along with other railway contractors, who are on the CBI’s radar, was allegedly paying bribe to ensure Kumar becomes member (electrical) which will help them to corner tenders worth crores in their favour.

The well-prepared CBI raided simultaneously at Chandigarh, Mumbai and Bengaluru to nab Singla, Kumar and Manjunath.

UPA govt on ventilator, says Varun Gandhi
Lucknow:BJP national general secretary Varun Gandhi on Saturday led a protest rally against the UPA government here as he took charge of his party in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the next year’s Lok Sabha polls. Varun said the history of the UPA government was repeating itself while referring to the corruption charges against railway minister Pawan Bansal’s nephew. “Be it the 2G scam, coal scam or the Commonwealth Game scam, the government is facing one charge of corruption or the other,” he said. “The 2G scam was worth Rs 1.76 lakh crore. What does that amount mean to UP? It means several lakh schools and appointment of many more teachers.”

He hinted the elections may be held much before time, saying the government had lost confidence of the people and was “running on ventilator”. TNN
Neeraj Chauhan TNN

RAILWAY POSTING SCAM: Lure of lucre made Kumar fall for deal
New Delhi: It was “pure business” that made Mahesh Kumar strike the deal for his promotion. Considered a bright officer by both his senior and junior colleagues in the Railways, he was eyeing the post of member (electrical) for long and went to the extent of’buying’ it, thanks to the huge funds riding on the job profile.

In fact, the incumbent is responsible for around 35% of spending, which works to about Rs 2,500 crore, of the national transporter’s total expenditures. A member (electrical) is a lucrative post largely because the officer has the final say in policy decisions related to signalling and telecom, along with other electrical works.

Kumar, who is a 1975 batch officer of the Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers, was keen on bagging the post. Over the years, he had learnt the tricks of the trade since he had worked in the railway board as executive director (signal), executive director (telecom) and additional member (signal).

He was fully aware of the discretionary powers of the technical post like finalizing technical specifications for private companies working in the field of signalling and telecom. A highplaced source said the modus operandi in the sector is “tailor-made tender specifications: to give advantage to a particular private firm.

The “cash-for-promotion" scam is confirmation of rampant corruption in the Railways. A senior official pointed out that money changing hands for promotions and transfers is not new, but this has seldom come out in public domain.

The scam has come at a time when the railway board — the highest decision-making body of the national transporter — is in for changes as three members retired last week and others are retiring next month.

Railway officials want to find place in the seven-member board, which sits over crore of funds and the decisions relating transporter's massive budget of Rs 63,363 crore for the current fiscal is routed through it.

The “cash-for-promotion” scam can be seen in the present scenario when three members — member (staff) A K Vohra, member (mechanical) Keshav Chandra and member (traffic) K K Srivastava retired on April 30, while chairman railway board Vinay Mittal and finance commissioner Vijaya Kanth are slated to retire on June 30.

The Railway Board had recently appointed Subodh Jain as member (engineering), Mahesh Kumar as member (staff) and Arunendra Kumar as member (mechanical). The post of member (traffic) is yet to be filled up.
Mahendra Singh TNN

RAILWAY POSTING SCAM: UPA staring at losing two ‘tainted’ mins
Speculation Rife That Govt May Not Last Full Term

New Delhi: Hit by yet another corruption scandal, the Manmohan Singh government is staring at the possibility of two ministers — law minister Ashwani Kumar and railway minister Pawan Bansal — resigning in the face of an all-around Opposition onslaught.

As the Congress assesses the damage, the Manmohan Singh government’s political gameplan to end its tenure with a blaze of populist projects like food security and land compensation bills has received a hefty blow.

The embarrassing arrest of Bansal’s nephew Vijay Singla for accepting bribes for a senior railway appointment can scupper the government’s attempt to argue that while it is keen on legislating benefits for pro-a a m a a d m i, an obdurate Opposition, led by BJP, was standing in the way by disrupting Parliament.

The strategy to paint the BJP as overly obsessed with issues like Coalgate and being out to garner political mileage was intended to put pressure on smaller Opposition groups, but the Bansal saga will almost certainly ensure Parliament does not transact business next week.

Scenting an opportunity to corner a wounded government, the Opposition is raising the tempo on the CBI arresting Singla and also demanding Kumar’s resignation for vetting a CBI report on the Coalgate investigation.

With both Bansal and Kumar looking vulnerable, the Opposition is hoping to end the Budget session on May 10 with two trophies in the bag. This would further reduce the UPA’s already depleted political capital and fuel speculation about the government’s ability to last its full term till April, 2014.

“The Prime Minister must immediately seek the resignation of the railway minister. The bribe giver and taker have been caught. One is a nephew of Bansal who could not be unaware of what was happening,” said BJP leader Prakash Javadekar.

Congress media in-charge Janardan Dwivedi sought to counter the demand by saying the Opposition was in the habit of demanding resignations and this has become a “disease”.

Although Congress seemed to back Bansal, at least for now, its response invited more Opposition attacks with Javadekar wanting to know whether the ruling party intends to reward Bansal for a job well done.

The Samajwadi Party had a harsh word for Bansal too, with party general secretary Ram Asrey Kushwaha saying the minister must quit on moral grounds. CPM’s Sitaram Yechury also sought the minister’s resignation and Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien said the incident exposed the “retail bribery” in the UPA.

The railway scandal threatens to reduce the feel-good factor the Congress is anticipating in the Karnataka poll where it looks set to trounce the BJP and return to power. Resignations of the two Chandigarh politicians will certainly take away some of the shine.

With Bansal showing no signs of putting in his papers, the Opposition is certain to kick up a ruckus in Parliament when it meets on Monday unless the minister throws in the towel before that or is forced out of office by the Congress high command.

The Congress will be left with no defence against the Opposition onslaught as any ditherers in the non-UPA ranks will be silenced by the developments. Not only will the ruling party’s hopes of passing crucial legislation be dashed, ramming through legislation will be seen as a thoroughly inappropriate action.

Apart from the railway bribery scandal, the government has to contend with the CBI filing an affidavit before the Supreme Court listing the changes made by the law minister in its status report on the Coalgate investigation on Monday. Thereafter the court is to hear the case two days later.

Congress managers will remain on tenterhooks and unless the party high command undertakes surgical measures, it will be a testing time for the ruling coalition.

RAILWAY POSTING SCAM: Pawan Bansal should resign, say BJP, CPM

New Delhi: The BJP and CPM on Saturday demanded Pawan Bansal’s resignation, disregarding the railway minister’s defence that he could not be punished if his nephew allegedly took bribes for fixing appointments to the Railway Board.

Dismissing Bansal’s claim that he never let his sister’s son, Vijay Singla, influence his decisions, BJP leader Arun Jaitley said: “It is an open-and-shut case. People who have taken money was clearly acting on behalf of the minister. Neither Singla nor the contractors who organized the transaction make the appointments. It is the minister who makes the appointment”.

The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha further said : “Just as his wife Ceasar’s nephew should also be above suspicion”. However, he added that it was not just a case of moral culpability. “In any other country, Bansal would have been behind the bars”.

He also joined issue with Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi for the latter’s statement that the Opposition has developed a disease of demanding resignations.” Given the epidemic of corruption that has swept the government, Opposition has every right to demand resignations,” Jaitley said.

No comments:

Post a Comment