The Telegraph
Friday , May 10 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sharad U-turn on rail minister

New Delhi, May 9: Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav today advised Pawan Kumar Bansal to step down to avoid “further condemnation”, saying revelations about the railway minister’s relatives had made him change his stand on the leader he felt was clean.

The turnaround came five days after Sharad had defended the under-fire minister, whose nephew was caught accepting a bribe to manipulate a plum posting in the railways.

Sharad had on Saturday said politicians couldn’t be held accountable for the actions of their relatives.

“Whatever I said about Bansal was based on his image. I defended him since I had known him for a long time and felt he was clean. But now the kind of reports that are coming, he should step down immediately and avoid further condemnation,” the JD(U) chief said.

Asked what kind of reports had made him change his opinion, the MP from Madhepura said: “Reports about the phenomenal rise of his relatives.”

On Saturday, Yadav had said: “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?”

His comments, which had surprised many in the JD(U), who felt his views were “personal” and embarrassed ally BJP, were used by some Congress leaders to shield the minister against the Opposition’s demand for his resignation.

Party sources hinted that Sharad had been forced to retreat under pressure from the dominant view within the JD(U). Party colleague and chief minister Nitish Kumar is also learnt to be unhappy with Sharad for defending the railway minister.

At the media conference, two party MPs — Ramchandra Prasad Singh and Shabir Ali, both widely known to be Nitish confidants — sat beside Sharad.