Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday slammed the Narendra Modi government for removing CBI chief Alok Verma, who was allegedly willing to probe the "irregularities" in the Rafale deal, and termed the move "illegal and an insult to the Constitution”.
Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Gandhi said, “They are not removing the CBI director but trying to hide the evidence in Rafale deal. PM’s reaction was in a panic. The moment CBI inquiry begins in Rafale deal, the PM knows he is finished."
The Congress chief said that the appointment and the removal of CBI director are done by a committee of three people that includes the Chief Justice and the Leader of the Opposition besides the prime minister.
"Removal and appointment of CBI Director are decided by 3 member committee- PM, CJI & Leader of Opposition. CBI Director was removed by Prime Minister in the middle of the night. Apart from being an insult to the people of India, it is unconstitutional and illegal," Gandhi said while addressing a press conference in Delhi.
In a stunning move, the Centre on Tuesday night had sent CBI chief Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana on leave and appointed joint director Nageshwar Rao as interim chief of the premier investigation agency.
The government defended the move, saying it was taken on the recommendations of Chief Vigilance Commission (CVC). The decision that came after the courtroom drama involving the warring CBI officials. Both Verma and Asthana have accused each other of wrongdoings.
The Congress chief, however, claimed that the sudden move to divest the CBI chief of his powers of taken out of fear as he was willing to probe the alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal signed between the Government of India (GoI) and France in 2015.
The CBI, however, came out with its defence and said that Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana continued to remain the number one and two, respectively.
“Alok Verma will continue to remain CBI Director, Rakesh Asthana to remain Special Director. M Nageshwar Rao to look after duties & functions of the CBI Director in the interim period till the time CVC looks into the allegations,” a CBI spokesperson said minutes before Gandhi's press conference.
Watch Rahul Gandhi's press conference on CBI chief Alok Verma's removal below: