Buoyed by his renomination from Chandigarh seat, former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal today hit out at his detractors saying they had made it their "pastime to target me" and saw a "conspiracy" behind the "taint" charge.
"It was a conspiracy against me. This conspiracy should have been over eight months ago. After eight months of probe, when no proof was found against me, the chargesheet did not name me, still some people, who consider themselves to be the well wishers of the nation have targeted me," the former Union Minister said sarcastically.
"In fact some people had made it their pastime to target me but they will get their answers...I was confident of this for the last ten months because I am staying in Chandigarh and I am not in Delhi for the last ten months. I meet people, I go for functions, we organise functions," he said.
There was speculation that Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari, who is presently an MP from Ludhiana, was eyeing the Chandigarh seat.
The speculation gained ground as Tewari repeatedly stressed that those having "taint" should not be given tickets and that the party should not get into legalities and instead "not give tickets to those who are facing even allegations of corruption".
The two leaders are said to be having old rivalry in Punjab politics.
However, Tewari later dismissed as "completely unfounded" the speculation that he was reluctant to contest from Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat maintaining that he had already conveyed to Congress leadership about his willingness to be fielded from the constituency.
"It is absolutely erroneous, the speculation was completely unfounded. It was devoid of any merit. I had contested in 2004 in Ludhiana. I lost by a narrow margin.
"I worked in the constituency for five years, won in 2009 by the highest margin and have conveyed it to the leadership that I am more than willing, more than prepared, because I have worked in my constituency to re-contest from Ludhiana," he said.
Tewari said while it was for his party's Central Election Committee to decide, he was "unambiguously "clear in his mind that he wanted to contest from Ludhiana.
Asked whether he still held the view that Congress should not field tainted candidates, Tewari said the party had maintained a consistent line on the issue.
"Whenever there was even a whisper of an allegation, the Congress has acted. People have had to resign, so therefore given the totality of those circumstances, there was a certain articulation which I thought was a logical extension of what we have been doing over the past five years," he said.
He added these decisions are taken by Central Election Committee of the party where senior leaders take decisions in the best interest of the party. "All of us are bound by their decisions," Tewari said.
Bansal, meanwhile said that he was grateful to the party high command for believing in him. "I am sure that with the support of people in Chandigarh, we will surely win the seat." He said that there was an attempt to prove that the probe, that did not chargesheet him, was incorrect but the court dismissed it three days ago. He was apparently referring to the filing of a petition by an NGO, which was rejected by the High Court.
"This has worked in my favour. We must believe in the legal system of the country. Those, who do not believe in law do such things," Bansal said.
Party sources said that the Congress Central Election Committee had cleared Bansal's name for Chandigarh long back but did not announce it in the first list to avoid any controversy while making a big declaration of candidates for 194 seats