Months before arrest, Railway official had asked minister Bansal for Electrical post, was refused


Mahesh Kumar, the Railway Board Member (Staff) who was arrested last week for allegedly bribing the nephew of Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal to get the coveted post of Member (Electrical), is believed to have met Bansal earlier this year and conveyed to him that he wanted to head the Electrical directorate and not the Staff directorate he was being considered for.

However, sources said that his request was rejected and he was told that the process of selection that was on at that time was for Member (Staff) for which he was eligible. Kumar was then the general manager, Western Railway, and was appointed Member (Staff) this month. He was suspended after his arrest.

Sources said that while working out the list of candidates, Bansal wanted to know from those eligible for Board appointments what their vision for the job was.

Kumar, a signaling engineer, apparently used this opportunity to meet Bansal personally and told him he did not want to head the staff directorate -a departure from the norm- and that he wanted to be considered for Member (Electrical), which, he had said, was due to fall vacant as incumbent Kulbhushan would take over as chairman in June.

According to investigating officials, having been a railway bureaucrat for 40 years, Kumar apparently knew that going by convention it would not be easy to shift him from Member (Staff) to Member (Electrical) within two months of appointment.

The CBI alleges that Kumar struck a "compromise" with Bansal's nephew Vijay Singla to the effect that he would keep the post of Member (Staff) but would also be given additional charge of signaling and telecom and he would also get to keep his present charge of GM, Western Railway.

The CBI is learnt to have gathered details of board-level appointments over the last four years - the time when Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress was in charge of the ministry - to understand the pattern of appointments and detect any possible wrongdoing.

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