advocate-turned-politician, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal
has gradually moved his way up in his political career while
maintaining a clean image. However, this will be impacted by a
bribery scandal in which his nephew Vijay Singla figures
Bansal, 64 (born July 16, 1948), who is into his fourth term as MP
from Chandigarh, is generally a soft-spoken man who has maintained
a low-profile even as a top politician.
His appointment as railway minister last year was welcomed by
Chandigarh residents and within weeks of his taking over, the city
got a new Shatabdi Express train connection to New Delhi, in
addition to two existing ones, and the Chandigarh railway station
started getting a major facelift.
Bansal used to be a frequent traveller on the Chandigarh-New Delhi
Shatabdi Express train and continued to do this even after
becoming railways minister (not using the special salon meant for
When he was made railways minister October last year, the Congress
leadership reposed a lot of faith in Bansal. After all, the
railways ministry, considered lucrative in political circles, had
come back to the Congress party after a gap of several years.
In the past two decades, the ministry was always held by leaders
from parties who ran coalition governments with the Congress at
Bansal first railway budget February this year saw a number of
things for the north region - an area hitherto general neglected
by successive railway ministers.
A law graduate from Panjab University here, also the alma mater of
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Bansal studied at the same time as
the present Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj.
Originally hailing from south-west Punjab, Bansal's first big
break in politics came in 1984 when he was made a Rajya Sabha MP
from Punjab. He became close to the then Prime Minister Rajiv
In 1991, Bansal contested the Lok Sabha elections from the
Chandigarh seat and won it. After losing the seat in 1996, he got
elected from the same seat in 1999, 2004 and 2009. He held various
posts in the Congress, including its Chief Whip (2004-06).
He was inducted as a minister of state for finance in the union
government in January 2006 and held the post till May 2009. In
April 2008, he was also made minister of state for parliamentary
Following the last general elections in May 2009, Bansal was
elevated as a cabinet minister. He headed various ministries like
water resources, parliamentary affairs, science and technology and
Bansal largely kept away from controversies, except for a few
run-ins with former Punjab Governor and Chandigarh administrator
S.F. Rodrigues. The current bribery scam is the biggest
controversy in his political career.
Married to home-maker Madhu Bansal, Bansal has two sons - Amit and
Manish. While the elder one runs a school, Delhi Public School, in
Chandigarh in which former union minister Ambika Soni also has a
stake, the younger son, Manish, was being groomed for politics.