India Congress ministers quit amid scandals

  • 10 May 2013
  • From the section Asia
Former Indian Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar
Image caption Congress is in crisis talks after Pawan Kumar Bansal (L) and Ashwani Kumar resigned

Two Indian ministers have resigned over links with corruption claims, plunging the Congress party into crisis.

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Law Minister Ashwani Kumar resigned in separate incidents.

Mr Bansal quit after police arrested his nephew for bribery, and Mr Kumar stepped down amid claims he influenced a report into the coal industry.

Reports suggest Congress leaders are holding crisis meetings. The government has been beset by corruption scandals.

Mr Bansal called for a police investigation into the bribery allegations.

"I have always observed the highest standard of probity in public life," he told local media.

'Caged parrot'

The opposition's demands for Mr Bansal to resign paralysed parliament and disrupted a budget session.

The Congress party said it "was not going to spare anybody mired in corruption".

Mr Kumar resigned a day after the Supreme Court accused the government of interfering in a federal investigation into a coal industry scandal.

Auditors have said India lost $210bn (£134bn) by selling off coalfields cheaply.

Image caption Opposition parties have called for PM Manmohan Singh to resign over the coal scandal

A report into the coal scandal by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was given to government ministers before it was submitted to court.

Judges say the report was changed after government members saw it, and accused the CBI of becoming a "caged parrot speaking in the master's voice".

Outraged opposition parties had demanded that both Mr Kumar and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resign for trying to influence the investigation.

Opposition politicians accused the government of "looting the country" by selling coalfields to companies without competitive bidding.

Mr Singh denies any wrongdoing and has refused to quit.

Correspondents say the controversy has raised questions over the independence of India's leading investigation agency when it looks into scandals involving government ministers and officials.

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