UPA rules out resignation of Bansal, Ashwani
A meeting of the Congress Core Group, the second in as many days, saw the ruling party deciding to weather the storm at a time when Parliament is paralysed over a host of issues, including the coal scam in which the BJP is demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
After the deliberations of the meeting chaired by party chief Sonia Gandhi at the residence of the Prime Minister, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari ruled out resignations of either Bansal or Kumar.
In fact, he even quoted NDA Convenor and JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav's defence of Bansal to make an attack on BJP remarking, "resignation does not augur well for democracy".
Bansal's resignation is being demanded in the wake of the arrest of his nephew by CBI on the charge of accepting bribe to fix plum position in the Railway Board and demands for his removal and prosecution are mounting.
The resignation of Kumar is being demanded in the wake of allegations that he had interfered in the preparation of CBI status report on coal allocation scam issue to the Supreme Court.
Tewari said any decision on the Railway Minister will be "improper" till a probe in the case in which his nephew has been arrested is on. The Minister himself has welcomed the probe into the issue.
"Two parallel processes are playing themselves out. There is a trial in the public domain and there is an investigation process….The Supreme Court itself has said that till proved otherwise, a person should be treated as innocent," he said.
Dismissing suggestions that the Congress leadership was applying different yardsticks for different leaders and had taken resignation of Ashok Chavan as Maharashtra Chief Minister in similar circumstances, Tewari remarked, "There are no different forks for different folks…If any parallels are sought to be drawn they are erroneous."
Brushing aside the demand for the resignation of the Law Minister, he said the matter concerning Ashwani Kumar is sub-judice and is scheduled to come up in Court on May 8.
Accusing BJP of playing the politics of disruption and obstruction in Parliament, Tewari said those demanding the resignations should first look within.
The decision of the Congress leadership to back the two ministers is expected to escalate the deadlock in Parliament which has failed to do any business since the second phase of the Budget session resumed on April 22.
The passage of the Finance Bill, which marks the end of the Budgetary exercise and the Railway Budget, was done without any debate and after walkout of the opposition.
In fact, the talk in ruling circles is that government could go in for a sine die adjournment of Parliament on Wednesday once the JPC draft report on 2G scam is adopted or committee gets an extension by then.
BJP was quick to lambast the government with party General Secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy saying the belligerence of the Congress government to defend corruption and its corrupt ministers is shocking.
Significantly, Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy as also Tewari were called for consultations after the Core Group meeting. Personnel Ministry is the nodal ministry under which the CBI works.
At the Core Group meeting, Bansal is said to have explained his position claiming he had neither business links with his nephew Vijay Singla nor did he get influenced by him in decision-making.
He has distanced himself from Singla, who was arrested by CBI two days back for allegedly accepting Rs 90 lakh for fixing a better position for Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar.
Before the three-hour long Core Group meeting, Gandhi held consultations with Defence Minister A K Antony.
Union Minister Kamal Nath was called in again today at the Core Group meeting which was attended among others by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.