Railway scandal: Will Narain Rao Manjunath reveal all?
Vicky Nanjappa profiles Narain Rao Manjunath, one of the key accused in the Railways bribery scandal.
The Central Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the Railways bribery scandal in which Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal's nephew Vijay Singla is an accused, is looking for vital leads from Narain Rao Manjunath, managing director of the Bengaluru-based G G Tronics India Private Limited.
Manjunath is charged with paying the bribe for suspended Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar who was trying to get himself appointed as Member (Electrical) on the board.
Manjunath's company is involved in designing and manufacturing Electronic Safety Embedded Systems for the Indian Railways.
The CBI alleges that Manjunath acted as a middleman between Mahesh and Singla.
Further, it is alleged that Singla told Manjunath that the position of Member (Electrical) would soon fall vacant and that Mahesh Kumar could be accommodated in that slot.
The CBI claims that to strike the deal, Manjunath and Mahesh Kumar roped in a Chandigarh-based railway contractor, Sandip Goyal. Manjunath allegedly decided to Mahesh Kumar Rs 2 crores (Rs 20 million). Mahesh Kumar was to hand the amount over to Goyal to push his case for the lucrative appointment on the Railway Board.
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Image: Narain Rao Manjunath, right; Left: Mahesh Kumar
Who is Narayan Rao Manjunath?
Manjunath, an electrical engineer hailing from Tumkur, set up his company in Bangalore in 1991 after returning from the United States.
He started operations in the residential area of Basaveshwanagar and then moved to the Peenya Industrial Estate in Bangalore after he was allotted 25,000 sq/ft of government land for Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million).
Manjunath's acquaintances are not ready to believe he could be involved in such a scandal. They see him as a God-fearing man.
Extremely intelligent, Manjunath came up with the digital axle counter system, which is used to determine the number of axles that pass over the railway tracks.
According to investigators, he encountered Mahesh Kumar in 2002 when the latter was a divisional railway manager at South Western Railway (Bangalore Division). It is alleged that Mahesh Kumar helped Manjunath with railway contracts.
Mahesh Kumar, the CBI claims, used Manjunath to make a payment of Rs 90 lakh (Rs 9 million) to Railway Minister Pawan Bansal's nephew, Vijay Singla. He was to meet with Goyal and hand over the money. However, they did not realise the CBI had laid a trap for them.
CBI sources told Rediff.com that it is evident that helping someone attain an influential post in the Railways would be beneficial for someone like Manjunath whose livelihood depends on the public sector undertaking.
Contracts worth over Rs 50,000 crore (Rs 500 billion) are at stake in the railways, sources point out.
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