Congress President Rahul Gandhi Thursday alleged that the midnight removal of CBI Director Alok Verma was “illegal” and a “panic reaction” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stall investigation on “corruption” in the Rafale fighter jet deal.
Addressing a press conference, he said Verma’s removal was an “insult” to not only the Constitution but also to the Chief Justice of India and the leader of the Opposition, who along with the prime minister, as part of a panel have the powers to appoint or remove him.
While the Prime Minister’s Office did not react, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said, “Rahul Gandhi is manufacturing lies every day on the Rafale jet deal.”
According to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana were asked to go on leave on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission as it was “absolutely essential” to maintain the institutional integrity of the CBI.
The CBI rejected reports that files related to several crucial cases, including that of the Rafale jet deal, were under the consideration of Verma when he was divested of his powers by the Centre. It maintained that Verma continues to be its director, but is on leave.
“The main reason for this removal of CBI Director at midnight is that the CBI was going to begin an investigation on the role of the prime minister in the Rafale scam and the corruption carried out by him,” Gandhi told reporters.
He alleged that the prime minister’s move to remove the CBI chief at 2 in the middle of the night was a “panic reaction” after he learnt that Verma was ordering a CBI probe into the corruption in the Rafale deal.
Gandhi said, “It is illegal… It is criminal. It is an insult to the Constitution. It is an insult to the Chief Justice of India, the leader of the opposition. It is also an insult to the people of India.”
“The entire country knows that the CBI was about to begin an investigation into the role of the prime minister in the Rafale scam. That is why the CBI director was removed at 2 am. The Prime Minister was scared that once a CBI investigation into the case starts, he would be finished. In this sense, the PM’s reaction was in the panic,” he said when asked about BJP’s charge on how Gandhi knew about Verma’s plan to order a probe into Rafale deal.
The Congress chief also alleged that the prime minister was “burying evidence in the Rafale scam” as that is the reason why Verma was removed at 2 AM and his room was sealed and incriminating documents seized and taken away.
Asked if the Congress would move court on the matter, Gandhi said, “Our duty as the Opposition party is to bring the truth out in the open and inform the public” and claimed that the Congress was doing the job of the opposition party.
On a query about the basis of his confidence on claims that the CBI was about to begin a Rafale probe he skirted the issue but claimed, “I know as everyone knows. Besides the question is not how I know this. The question is that the PM helped his friend Anil Ambani get Rs 30,000 crore in Rafale and that’s corruption.”
He said while the CBI director’s removal was “illegal”, it was also illegal to hand over the charge to a new man, who has cases against him. Gandhi said this was done “so that the prime minister can control him because he is corrupt” while referring to joint director Nageswara Rao who has been entrusted the charge of CBI.
The Congress chief recalled that the entire country knows that the prime minister has done “corruption” and everything goes to prove that the Prime Minister has put Rs 30,000 crore in the pocket of his friend Anil Ambani and robbed the nation.
“You can run as much as you want but will be caught at the end… I am telling you Narendra Modi will be caught. He can run today but the country and the opposition will get him tomorrow,” said Gandhi.
He said that from now on every Indian institution is going to protect the prime minister, but every Indian citizen will find out the truth. PTI