Though Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has distanced himself from Vijay Singla, saying he has no business relationship with his arrested nephew, not many in Chandigarh would buy this plea.
For, both Vijay Singla and his brother Madan Mohan Singla (sons of Mr. Bansal’s sister) are known to be the Minister’s right-hand men, who have helped extensively in his election campaigns. Vijay organised meetings of industrialists, traders and the Aggarwal Sabha for Mr. Bansal, and was seen with him during the 2009 election campaign.
Both Mr. Bansal and Vijay live in Sector 28-A, very close to each other, and their families visit each other almost daily.
( >Vijay was arrested here on Friday for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs. 90 lakh for fixing a top level position in the government.)
The talk of the town is that the businesses of Vijay and Madan flourished during the minister’s tenure. Speaking to The Hindu , the former Chandigarh MP and senior BJP leader Satpal Jain alleged that Vijay had bought a plot of Modern Bakery in the industrial area for more than Rs. 1 crore and, thanks to Mr. Bansal’s influence, got its use converted to that of a shopping mall, on which the Acropolis commercial complex is now coming up.
It is not just Vijay but the Delhi Public School, run by Mr. Bansal’s son Manish in Sector 40 here, which has also courted controversy in recent days for denying admission to children from Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and disadvantaged groups as mandated under the Right to Education Act (RTE).
Matters came to a head this week when Surinder Singh, a mechanic, complained to the SC and ST Commission about threats and intimidation held out to him, allegedly by Manish, for bringing to its notice denial of admission to his son under the special category in which seats were lying vacant.
Said social activist Hemant Goswami: “In April the Chandigarh administration forwarded a list of 18 EWS students to DPS for admission; out of this they selected only seven and converted the remaining seats into general category.”
From the records he procured under the RTI Act, Mr. Goswami said that from 500-odd seats the school was supposed to reserve for the EWS and disadvantaged children in 2010, the number was arbitrarily brought down to 37 in 2013. Of these, 18 were still lying vacant and were now converted into general category because, according to the school management, there were no poor children in the vicinity.
“We never expected that a school being run by the local MP would be violating provisions of the RTE so blatantly,” said the activist.