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Surprise voice of support for Bansal

New Delhi, May 4: Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav today said Pawan Bansal should not be held accountable for what his relative might have done, breaking ranks with ally BJP that has demanded the railway minister’s resignation.

“If any relative of a political leader is involved in corruption, then what is the fault of that leader? I have known Pawan Bansal for a long time. He has been in Parliament for a long time. What has he to do with his nephew taking bribe?” Yadav said.

Asked if the minister should resign after his nephew’s arrest by the CBI on charges of accepting a bribe from a railway official, he said: “How do you plan to run this country when politicians start resigning for the deeds of their relatives? Those involved have been arrested and an investigation is going on.”

Refusing to call for Bansal’s resignation, he said: “It is up to him.”

The statement, coming from the leader of a key NDA constituent, dampened the BJP’s aggressive demand for the minister’s dismissal. BJP leaders, however, sought to downplay the remark.

In Dal(U) circles, too, Yadav’s statement came as a surprise although party leaders refrained from commenting on the issue, pointing out that they cannot contradict the party president.

Rajya Sabha Dal (U) MP Shabir Ali, however, said during a debate on ABP News: “The minister should take moral responsibility and resign.”

Party insiders said Yadav was known for championing the cause of the political class and felt too much significance should not be attached to his remarks.

“In this season of scams, it is impossible to defend the Congress. Sharadji is known for aggressively defending the political class when (Anna) Hazare targeted politicians. His remarks should be seen from that point of view,” pointed out a Dal (U) MP.

Yadav’s remark is also being seen as an effort by the Bihar party to project itself as independent of senior partner BJP against the backdrop of its differences over Narendra Modi.

“Is it necessary to endorse what the BJP says? Janata Dal (United) is an independent party and has its own views on different issues,” a Dal(U) MP said.

Ever since strains erupted in Dal(U)-BJP ties on the Modi issue, the Bihar party has been occasionally making friendly gestures towards the Congress.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, during his two visits to Delhi, one on the occasion of his party’s Adhikar Rally and the other at a national body meeting of the party, had not spoken a word on the UPA’s corruption.

Some party leaders said Yadav’s reaction could be part of their strategy to make the BJP nervous about the Dal(U)’s future plans.