Pawan Kumar Bansal skips Cabinet meet, triggers speculation about exit

Pawan Kumar BansalPawan Kumar Bansal (AP)

Pressure mounted for the removal of Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal today as more instances of impropriety tumbled out in the Railways bribery case, amidst talk of a reshuffle of the Union Cabinet in which beleaguered Law Minister Ashwani Kumar may be shifted to a different portfolio.

Significantly, Bansal, whose nephew Vijay Singla has been arrested for allegedly trying to fix promotion for a member in the Railway Board, skipped a meeting of the Union Cabinet this evening, that added grist to the mill that he could be on his way out.

Bansal remained confined to his Ashoka Road residence and did not even attend office, with sources close to him claiming he was not well.

Related: Bansal's nephew remanded in judicial custody

The discomfiture over his continuance as a minister came after reports emerged that firms owned by the Bansal family, including his wife, sons and the tainted nephew allegedly received huge loans from a public sector bank. Bansal was Minister of State for Finance when a business partner of his son was appointed Director in that bank.

Bansal's woes mounted with CBI questioning his Private Secretary Rahul Bhandari, a 1997-batch IAS officer from Punjab cadre, in connection with the alleged Rs 10 crore bribery scandal.

Bansal has denied any wrongdoing by him claiming that he has no business links with Singla.

Amidst these developments, there was a talk about reshuffle of the Union Cabinet shortly in which Bansal could be dropped and Kumar shifted to some other portfolio.

Kumar is under attack in connection with the vetting of CBI report on coal block allocation scam, with the Supreme Court making critical observations over it.

Various names were being talked about for the portfolios of Railways and Law and consequent changes in the Council of Ministers.

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