Congress president Rahul Gandhi courted arrest on Friday after staging a protest outside the CBI headquarters against the move to divest CBI Director Alok Verma of his powers, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi “stole” money from the country and can run but not hide from the truth.
Reiterating his allegations against the prime minister on the Rafale fighter jet deal, Gandhi again called him “chowkidar” and said he had “deposited Rs 30,000 crore in Anil Ambani’s pocket”.
“He has stolen money from the Indian Air Force and the youth, and the entire country understands this. The prime minister can run but he cannot hide from the truth,” Gandhi told reporters after courting arrest.
There were no immediate reactions from the Prime Minister’s Office on Gandhi’s allegations. While Ambani has been consistently denying the allegations, the BJP has accused Gandhi of manufacturing lies every day on the Rafale deal.
Gandhi and other Congress leaders were inside the Lodhi Colony police station for around 30 minutes, a police officer said on the condition of anonymity.
“They (Congress leaders) wanted to be arrested but we told them that they were only under detention,” he added.
Hundreds of Congress workers marched from the Dayal Singh College to the CBI headquarters about a kilometre away around 11,30 am.
About 130 people, including Gandhi, Ashok Gehlot and Bhupinder Hooda, were detained.
“During the demonstration, a total of 130 persons were detained and brought to the Lodhi Colony police station. After 30 minutes, all of them were released,” said Vijay Kumar, deputy commissioner of police, South.
According to Gandhi, people are coming on the streets to show the prime minister “the mirror of reality”.
“No matter how hard the government tries, it will not be able to cage the truth,” Gandhi tweeted along with photographs of the protest march and him sitting at the Lodhi road police station.
“The truth will come out,” Gandhi told the media at the police station, adding that removing the CBI director will not impact the truth.
The opposition party has alleged that the “demolition of the CBI” was prompted by fears that Verma was going to conduct a probe into the Rafale deal.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has dismissed as “rubbish” the allegations by the Opposition that Verma was removed because he was collecting documents on the deal.
Asked about the commotion during his arrest, Gandhi said, “You can push me or arrest me as many times but I do not care.”
He refused to discuss the Supreme Court order, saying that the process is “carrying on”.
The apex court Friday said a former Supreme Court judge A K Patnaik will oversee a CVC inquiry into the allegations against Verma and the report has to be placed before it within two weeks.
The court also directed that interim CBI chief M Nageswar Rao shall not take any major policy decisions. Decisions taken by him since October 23 till date shall not be implemented, it said.
The government sent Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who have accused each other of corruption, on leave on Tuesday.
It also transferred several CBI officials and appointed Rao as the interim chief of the agency.
According to Gandhi, the prime minister cannot even waive a loan of Re 1 of the farmers.
“Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi ran away after taking Rs 35,000 crore. Vijay Mallya ran away with 9,000 crore. Lalit Modi, too, ran away. Maybe Anil Ambani will also run away. But the reality is that prime minister has indulged in corruption and helped Anil Ambani,” he said.
Asked about the new energy which his party has found after he led the protest, Gandhi said the Congress gets its energy from the people.
Addressing the gathering of Congress protesters earlier in the day, Gandhi accused Modi of destroying institutions such as the CBI, the Election Commission and the Enforcement Directorate.
Senior Congress leaders, including Gehlot, Ahmed Patel, Motilal Vora, Veerappa Moily and Anand Sharma, took part in the march that culminated in a demonstration ahead of the CBI headquarters.
Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav, CPI leader D Raja and TMC’s Nadimul Haque joined the protest.
The Congress’ protests in the national capital were replicated in other parts of the country. PTI