Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said that ‘Chowkidar’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi “removed” Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Alok Verma because he had started to question the controversial Rafale deal.
“‘Chowkidar’ removed CBI Director because he was beginning to question on Rafale scam,” Gandhi said while addressing a rally in Jhalawar, Rajasthan.
The BJP held a press conference earlier in the day and justified the ouster of Verma by saying that doing so was essential to maintain the agency’s “integrity”.
Midnight chaos was witnessed when the government sent Verma on a leave. An order was also issued that agency’s Joint Director, M. Nageshwar Rao shall take over the duties and functions of CBI Director with immediate effect.
“The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved that during the period of the subsistence of the aforesaid interim measure, cited in reference above, Shri M Nageshwar Rao, IPS, presently working as Joint Director, CBI shall look after duties and functions of Director CBI and shall take over the duties and functions with immediate effect,” the notification read.
As per media report, both, Alok Verma and CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana are now on interim leave and their offices have been sealed.
Asthana, a 1984 batch Indian Police Service officer of Gujarat cadre, went on interim leave as soon as an FIR was lodged against him by Verma in an alleged bribery case. The case pertains to Asthana having allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 5 crore from a Hyderabad-based businessman through two middlemen to help him avoid getting convicted in the Moin Qureshi case.
Another allegation was made by Verma against Asthana regarding the Sterling Biotech case. However, Asthana wrote to the Cabinet Secretary alleging that Verma was interfering in his work.
As per a report in The Wire, the government acted against Verma for having to ask for documentation on the controversial Rafale deal. As per the report, Verma has also requested for sanction to arrest an official considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
As per the same report, Verma was also mulling over initiating a preliminary enquiry into the deal.
The Congress has also questioned the government’s move to remove Verma. They took to Twitter to raise suspicions over the same.
“Why has the govt. removed CBI Director Alok Verma of his charge & sealed his offices? Who are they protecting & what are they hiding?” the party tweeted.