Ministers Pawan Kumar Bansal, Ashwani Kumar quit; resignations forwarded to Prez

Under fire Union ministers Ashwani Kumar and Pawan Kumar Bansal resigned from their posts on Friday evening.

Updated: May 11, 2013, 00:13 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Under fire Union ministers Ashwani Kumar and Pawan Kumar Bansal resigned from their posts on Friday evening.

Under scanner in the wake of the arrest of his nephew on bribery charges, Pawan Kumar Bansal resigned as Union Rail Minister; while Law minister Ashwani Kumar, who was under attack over vetting of CBI report on coal block allocation also submitted his resignation to the Prime Minister.

Bansal reportedly offered his resignation after meeting Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh at his 7, Race Course Road residence. And Kumar followed suit.

Confirming the development Bansal said, “I have resigned."

The 64-year-old Bansal is believed to have been given the marching orders shortly after Congress President Sonia Gandhi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh amid growing unease in the party over the controversy surrounding the Railway Minister.

Already battered by a series of scams, the party and the government suffered a severe blow when Bansal`s nephew Vijay Singla was arrested last week for allegedly accepting Rs.90 lakh as bribe for helping in the promotion of a Railway Board Member Mahesh Kumar.

Ashwani Kumar,in his resignation letter, said it was "to put an end to the controversy of public perception of wrong doing,".

He may be moved to a less significant ministry, said sources.

The resignations have been forwarded to President Pranab Mukherjee for his approval.
Media reports that a number of kin of Bansal had benefited from a public sector bank by way of loans when he was Minister of State of Finance earlier further embarrassed the party and the government.

A clear hint about action against Bansal came when Congress spokesman Bhakt Charan Das said the party will not spare anybody "mired" in corruption or manipulation.

Bansal`s exit is expected to trigger a reshuffle in the Council of Ministers over which the Congress President and the Prime Minister will meet on Sunday.

The reshuffle, expected next week, was also speculated to affect Law Minister Ashwani Kumar`s clout in the Cabinet.
Meanwhile, there were unconfirmed reports from Bangalore that Union Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, who lost out in race for Chief Ministership in Karnataka, told his supporters not to be disheartened because he may be given the Railway portfolio.

Initially the Congress party decided to weather the storm over Bansal but as more and more damning reports surfaced, it had to take a call on asking him to quit.

With PTI inputs