NEW DELHI: A few hours before he was asked to go, railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal sought divine intervention by feeding a goat at his residence.
TV footage, which went viral, showed Bansal and his wife Madhu conducting a puja at his official residence before the railway minister went to attend office after a day’s gap. Many felt the ritual was to invoke the blessings of the gods to ward off bad luck.
Soon after, TV channels happened to spot a goat – a rather new presence – inside Bansal’s sprawling Ashoka Road bungalow.
Pretty soon, channels had astrologers and pundits analyzing the significance of feeding or sacrificing a goat in Hindu mythology, even though it was hardly clear that the goat was being fattened in order to be an offering to the god.
There were panel discussions on the many TV channels about the significance of worshiping white goat and black goat in Hindu mythology.
Many were of the view that the apparent appeasement of a white goat on an Amawasya day could change the fate of Bansal who was under fire over the “jobs for sale” scam.
The excitement was only in keeping with the dramatic manner in which curtains came down on Bansal’s innings in railway ministry. The member of Lok Sabha from Chandigarh generated huge hopes after he came out with the first reformist budget in many years, reversing the populist trend and raising passenger fares in the face of stiff opposition.
His ouster also underlines that Rail Bhavan has turned out to be shaky perch for ministers. Bansal is the fourth minister to have looked after the affairs of the public transporter in as many of years of UPA-2.
The second edition of the coalition started with Mamata Banerjee at the helm. The Trinamool boss installed Dinesh Trivedi after she moved to Writers’ Building in Kolkata. Soon enough, Trivedi, who had fallen out of favour, had to make room for Mamata loyalist Mukul Roy. Trivedi, who had deviated from Mamata’s script in the rail budget, was not allowed to get the budget approved.
Roy fulfilled Mamata’s expectations but lasted only six months as Trinamool pulled out of the coalition.
Before the scam broke out, Bansal had an image of ‘Mr Clean’ and was known for being meticulous in his work. Many in Congress and the railways are still trying to come to terms with the CBI’s finding that his kin ran a brazen “cash-for-postings” racket.
While he has not been formally charged with any wrongdoing yet, the scam has blighted his achievement in presenting a “futuristic” and reformist budget.