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CBI director removed because agency questioned Rafale deal: Rahul Gandhi

Source: PTI
Last updated on: October 24, 2018 20:03 IST

Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Central Bureau of Investigation row, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday alleged that its Director Alok Verma was removed because the agency was raising questions over the Rafale fighter jet deal.

IMAGE: Congress chief in a rally in Rajasthan said that Verma was removed because he wanted to look into the Rafale fighter jet deal. Photograph: PTI Photo

Addressing a public rally in Rajasthan’s Jhalawar district, the home turf of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Gandhi also alleged that Mehul Choksi deposited money in the bank account of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s daughter.

“The CBI director was removed last night because the agency was raising questions over Rafale,” Gandhi alleged, adding that Verma had asked for documents of the fighter jet deal.


At a press conference in Delhi, Jaitley, however, dismissed as “rubbish” allegations that Verma was removed because he wanted to look into the Rafale fighter jet deal.

He said the government’s decision to remove Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana is based on the Central Vigilance Commission’s recommendations.

Gandhi said the prime minister sought votes saying he wanted to become the ‘chowkidar’ of the country but “the ‘chowkidar’ committed theft”.

The prime minister did not waive a single rupee of farmers, but he wrote off bad debt worth Rs 3.5 lakh crore of top 15 businessmen of the country, he alleged.

“A farmer is called a defaulter (if he is unable to repay the loan) but big businessmen with bad debt are given a red-carpet welcome and banks ask them how they can be helped,” Gandhi claimed.

“Lalit Modi is sitting in London but he gives crores of rupees to the son of your chief minister,” Gandhi alleged while addressing the gathering.

Vijay Mallya left the country after meeting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament and Choksi deposited money in the ICICI bank account of Jaitley’s daughter, Gandhi alleged.

The Congress chief had earlier accused Jaitley of helping the fugitive diamond merchant escape the country and had alleged that the minister’s daughter and son-in-law received retainership fees from the businessman.

Jaitley’s son-in-law had later issued a statement, saying his law firm had returned the retainership the moment they came to know that the company was involved in a scam.

Gandhi said that the previous United Progressive Alliance government started the MGRENGA programme that benefited the poor, but PM Modi called it “bekaar” (useless) scheme.

The Congress president alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party deceived people and siphoned off hard-earned money of farmers, poor, small businessmen to fill the pockets of the country’s 15-20 big industrialists.

Fuel prices are rising and LPG is getting out of reach of common people. Everything that farmers, the poor and common people purchase is becoming costlier, Gandhi said.

He said that both the prime minister and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje reneged on their promise of giving jobs to youths.

“The Congress gave jobs to people through its Rs 35,000-crore MNREGA scheme. Has the prime minister, chief minister, Anil Ambani or Mehul Choksi given you jobs?” he asked the audience.

He slammed the prime minister over his ‘sleeping elephant’ remark made during his Independence speech, saying he had insulted every Indian and their ancestors by belittling contribution of people who worked for the country’s progress.

AICC general secretaries Avinash Pandey and Ashok Gehlot, PCC president Sachin Pilot and other senior leaders were present at the meeting.

Speaking before him, state Congress chief Sachin Pilot slammed the BJP government over “deteriorating” law and order situation and miserable plights of farmers in the state.

He also accused Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje of being surrounded by a coterie of “corrupt people.”

The people around Raje are involved in gross corruption while the farmers have been left to commit suicide,” he said.

“At least 8 to 10 girls are raped daily in the state, while over 150 farmers have died in last four and a half years of the BJP rule -- most of them from Hadouti region,” he said.

Pilot took on Raje saying while she claims to have spent Rs 17,000 corer for the development of Jhalwar, the district collector has written to the Union government demanding fund for it and enlisting the district among the “most backward” ones.

“If such a huge amount has been spent on Jhalwar’s development, why is the district collector demanding fund for it? he asked.

Opposition reacts to CBI row

A number of opposition leaders including Trinamool Congress’s Mamata Banerjee, Communist Party of India-Marxist’s Sitaram Yechuri, Bahujan Samaj Party Mayawati, Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal and Communist Party of India’s D Raja also attacked the government over Verma’s removal.

“CBI has now become so-called BBI (BJP Bureau of Investigation) - very unfortunate!” Banerjee tweeted.

BSP leader alleged the Centre’s “vindictive, casteist and communal policies” have put not only the CBI, but other agencies as well under similar problem.

Dravida Munnetra Kazagham president M K Stalin also slammed the government for removing Verma, alleging that institutional freedom was facing serious threat under the Modi government.

“Director Alok Verma being sent on leave at a crucial time appears motivated with #RafaleScam under the scanner. The appointment of a corrupt officer as interim head of #CBI is equally questionable,” he tweeted.

In his reaction, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury alleged that the government removed CBI chief Verma to protect its ‘handpicked’ officer Asthana.

“The illegal removal of CBI chief by Modi government to protect their own handpicked officer, against whom serious charges of corruption are being investigated, points to attempts at a serious cover-up to protect his direct links to the BJP’s top political leadership,” tweeted Yechury.

“To ensure that the CBI is not a ‘caged parrot’, the Supreme Court had granted protection to its chief from govt’s whims and fancies by giving him a two-year tenure. What is Modi govt trying to hide by its panic move?” he asked.

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal echoed him.

“What are the reasons for sending CBI director on leave? Under which law did the Modi govt get the authority to initiate action against the chief of an investigating agency appointed as per the Lokpal Act? What is Modi govt trying to hide?” he said on Twitter.

The Samajwadi Party too condemned the action taken by government against Verma. SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said this “episode” has not only cast aspersions over the CBI’s credibility on the credibility of the CBI, but the functioning of the government has also come under suspicion.

CPI leader D Raja described the situation in the CBI as one akin to a “coup” that has shocked the nation and demanded the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as head of the government, explain to the people the truth.

“What is happening in the CBI is like a coup that has shocked the entire nation. The CBI has been plunged into such a crisis. It’s credibility stands completely destroyed. It is happening under the nose of the prime minister.

“There is speculation that it has something to do with the Rafale scam. People want to know the truth. The prime minister being the head of the government should explain to the people and the nation,” Raja said.


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