As the controversy over CBI chief Alok Verma snowballed, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday sharpened his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he was “removed in panic” midnight because Verma was going to begin a probe into the controversial Rafale deal that would have been “suicidal” for Modi.
He also said the stripping of the powers of the CBI chief was “illegal, criminal and unconstitutional” and was an insult to the Chief Justice of India, Leader of Opposition and the people of India as the CBI Director cannot be removed or appointed without the approval of the three-member committee of Prime Minister, CJI and LOP.
“It is an open and shut case, the moment the CBI inquiry begins, the Prime Minister is finished. It was suicidal for the PM to allow an inquiry. So to prevent the suicide he has removed CBI chief. The fight is on to reinstate him (Verma). You have to notice throughout all this, the Prime Minister has not said a single word,” he told reporters at a special briefing at the party headquarters flanked among others by Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and General Secretary Ashok Gehlot.
“I will come before you and you ask me various questions. Ask the Prime Minister three to four questions on Rafale. He would not be able to sit and he will run away,” he said, adding that the first question to the PM should be about the Rs 30,000 crore given to Anil Ambani.
Recalling the developments, Gandhi said that the CBI Director was removed at 2 a.m. in the night. He could have been removed at 9 or 10 a.m. in the morning. But the main reason for his removal was that the CBI was going to probe the role of the Prime Minister in the Rafale deal.
“The main reason was that the CBI was going to begin the investigation about the role of Prime Minister and the corruption carried out by him in the Rafale deal. In panic at 2 a.m. he removed CBI Director. If probe was ordered truth would have come out and the country would have known that Prime Minister has done corruption in the Rafale,” he said.
He said that Verma’s room was sealed and incriminating documents were taken away. That is why he was removed at 2 a.m. in the morning. “He was not just removed but the evidence was destroyed. This is the reason for his removal which is illegal,” he said.
Gandhi accused Modi of destroying the CBI and attacked him over the appointment of M. Nageshwar Rao as the interim CBI Chief. “He (Rao) is facing several charges. He has appointed a person who can be controlled by the Prime Minister. Prime Minister does not want an inquiry in Rafale that is why he has got a vulnerable officer. Will do what the Prime Minister wants him to do to hide the facts.
“Now every single institution is going to protect Prime Minister about Rafale. No institution Prime Minister is going to leave to save himself. He will attack every institution to save himself. He will do everything to save himself. But people will find out the truth,” he said.
Asked about how he knew that Verma was going to order a probe into the Rafale deal, the Congress chief said the whole nation knew that the CBI probe was going to take place. “it is a simple issue after Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie (former BJP Ministers) had given a complaint to the CBI Director and it was a logical conclusion,” he said.
“The question is not how Rahul Gandhi knew. The youth of the country knew that the corruption of Rs 30,000 crore has been done in the Rafale deal,” he said.
“You understand the mental state of the Prime Minister. He told the country that he wants to be the watchman of the country and even he had an image of a watchman. But the Prime Minister has done corruption in the Rafale deal. Not only Rafale, the Prime Minister knows that the day CBI action begins that day he will be finished. This reaction of the PM was in panic due to fear and out of restlessness. It was an irrational reaction,” he said.
To hide one crime they are doing number of crimes. But however much you may try to hide and run away, the country will catch you. It is made of clever and honest people.
He said the opposition was doing its work and will continue to do that. “We respect courts, they are also doing their work. Whereas Prime Minister is doing corruption. So we have to tell people that the PM has taken away Rs 30,000 crore.”
Asked about Finance Minister Arun Jaitley referring to CVC recommendation that formed the basis for the action against Verma, Gandhi hit back saying, “When the Congress demanded setting up of a JPC into the Rafale issue Jaitley kept quiet. Jaitley talks about everything but why does he not talk about his daughter.”
Gandhi was apparently referring to the legal firm of Jaitley’s daughter and her husband which had taken money from fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi and returned it after he fled the country.