CBI director removed because agency questioned Rafale deal: Rahul Gandhi
Jhalawar (Rajasthan), Oct 24 : Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the CBI 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.
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 that 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 UPA government started the MGRENGA programme that benefited the poor, but PM Modi called it “bekaar” (useless) scheme.
The Congress president alleged that the BJP 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.
Oppn attacks govt for removal of CBI director
New Delhi, Oct 24 : Opposition parties Wednesday slammed the government for CBI Director Alok Verma’s removal amid an escalating feud between him and his deputy Rakesh Asthana, with the Congress dubbing it the “last nail” in the agency’s independence and the CPI(M) calling it illegal.
Adding its voice to the debate, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) asked the reasons for sending the CBI director on leave.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala wondered if Verma was “sacked” for his keenness to probe the “layers of corruption” in the Rafale scam and sought an answer from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Modi govt buries the ‘last nail’ into the independence of CBI. Systematic dismantling & denigrating of CBI is now complete. Once a premier investigating agency, PM ensures that CBI’s integrity, credibility & reliability is buried & dead,” Surjewala said on Twitter.
There was no immediate comment either from the government or the ruling BJP on the allegations levelled by opposition parties.
“PM Modi has demonstrated the true colour of his infamous ‘Modi Made Gujarat Model’ by this cloak-and-dagger mugging of CBI. Has the CBI Director been sacked for his keenness to probe the layers of corruption in Rafale Scam? Isn’t the rest a shoddy cover up? Let PM answer!” the Congress leader said.
Attacking the prime minister, he said Modi has sought to achieve surreptitiously and clandestinely what he cannot do directly by sacking the CBI director.
Habitual and perpetual misuse of the CBI by the government and the BJP to “tamper fair investigation of serious criminal cases” is the reason for this unfathomable mess, Surjewala alleged.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury termed Verma’s removal “illegal”.
It has been done to protect the government’s handpicked officer against whom serious charges of corruption are being investigated, he said, alleging that it points to attempts at a serious cover-up to protect his direct links to the BJP’s top political leadership.
“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 AAP 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 government has divested Verma and Asthana of all powers amid an ongoing spat between them, sources said, calling it the first such case in the history of the agency.
The prime minister-led Appointments Committee Tuesday night gave charge of the director to Joint Director M Nageshwara Rao with immediate effect, a government order said.