CHANDIGARH (TIP): Suspended member of Railway Board Mahesh Kumar, who is the main accused in ” Railgate”, claimed that former railway minister Pawan Bansal had assured him of elevation to Member (Electrical) in the Board, according to telephone conversations taped by the CBI. The conversations recorded by the CBI also bring out that that one of the accused in the case, Narayan Rao Manjunath, claimed Bansal’s son Manish and nephew Vijay Singla, were very close to the Congress’s top leadership.
“Tension mat lo” Manjunath, a businessman who allegedly played Kumar’s conduit to Singla, is heard saying. In a separate conversation, another accused Sandeep Goyal is also purportedly talking about his clout with the PMO and the Congress brass. CBI sources, however, dismissed the contents of the intercepted conversation saying that these did not contradict their finding that Bansal was unaware of what the accused were up to.
As for the accused claims about their proximity to the PMO and Congress leadership, a senior CBI official said that they were bragging and dropping names to impress people from whom they took bribes. Bansal spoke with Mahesh Kumar when he flew to Mumbai on April 16 to attend the 58th Central Railway week where he also honoured the Railway Board member, who was then posted as the General Manager, Western Railways.
In a conversation on April 17 between Mahesh and Goyal, the suspended Railway Board member recounts his long meeting with Bansal in Mumbai the previous day. “Yesterday it was very good with the MR (minister railways), I mean, I showed him many such things which are nowhere in the Railways,” Mahesh tells Goyal. “In the morning we had breakfast together. And everything was very good,” he adds.
Mahesh then suddenly breaks into joy: “You know what… Then he (Bansal) said, I am doing something, I mean, you don’t worry, it will be done but you will have to do very good work. And it will be done in a day or two. Then I didn’t talk to him much as to what is the post etc.. I just said, sir do whatever you wish to. I just need your blessings.” This is the first time when a conversation involving Bansal has been revealed.
In a separate conversation dated April 10, when Mahesh enquires about the “movement of his promotion file”, Goyal assures him that the PMO approval will be done with haste. “Koi chakkar nahi, PMO se toh ho jayega,” Goyal says. As the conversation moves on, Goyal assures Mahesh about his elevation. “We will have a word dropped from 10 Janpath as well. There is no problem, you just leave it on me,” the chargesheet says.
However, CBI, which has given a clean chit to Bansal and has even made him a witness in the case, said that the contents of the tapes did not controvert their finding. “Our investigations revealed that Mahesh was unhappy about being appointed as Member (Staff) of the Railway Board as he fancied the powerful position of Member (Electrical). He offered bribe to get his appointment as Member (Staff) scrapped. But Bansal went ahead to appoint him as Member (Staff).
We have no evidence to suggest that he had initiated any move to shift Mahesh as Member (Electrical)”, said a senior CBI officer who is involved with the investigation into what is referred as “cash-for- post” scam in the railway ministry. Manjunath, the managing director of the Bengalore-based G G Tronics India Private Limited, had funded Mahesh’s ascension within the organization by arranging Rs 2 crore bribe for Singla.