In a scathing attack on Narendra Modi over several issues ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Congress president Rahul Gandhi asked why did the prime minister remove Alok Verma twice from the post of CBI director. Rahul Gandhi alleged that Verma was removed as he was about to begin a probe inquiry into the Rafale fighter jets deal. "You tell me what was the urgency in removing the CBI chief twice. What was the reason that the PM was writing at 1:30 in the night to have Verma removed. The Supreme Court ordered that Alok Verma be reinstated. And then within hours, the PM again goes for his head," Gandhi told News18 India in Dubai.
Barely two days after the Supreme Court reinstated him, Verma was on Thursday removed as CBI director by a high-powered committee headed by Modi on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty, in an unprecedented action in the central probe agency's 55-year history.
Verma, a 1979-batch IPS officer, had resumed duty on Wednesday, a day after the apex court paved his return with some riders and asked the three-member panel that selects the CBI chief to decide on his continuance in a week in the light of charges against him in the report of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). Verma's two-year tenure as director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is due to end on January 31. There were eight charges against Verma in the CVC report presented before the Committee that also comprised leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Justice AK Sikri, appointed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi as his nominee.
While Modi and Justice Sikri voted against Verma, Kharge filed a dissent note and contested the CVC report. He had also argued that Verma be given an opportunity to present his case before the selection committee. Verma was transferred as Director General, Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards on Thursday. On Friday, Verma refused to take up the new job and resigned from the Indian Police Service (IPS). In his resignation letter, Verma said: "Natural justice was scuttled and the entire process was turned upside down in ensuring that the undersigned is removed from the post of the director."
"Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari and Arun Jaitley have not been asking for Verma's removal. It is only Narendra Modi who has been pushing for Alok Verma's removal," alleges Gandhi.
"It was a political decision and we respect it. I respect Mayawati ji and I also respect Akhilesh and Mulayam Singh Yadav ji. But now even the Congress will have to do its work and we will fight with full zeal and vigour. The Congress won't back down and will fight with all its might," Gandhi said.
Addressing a press conference in Dubai on Saturday, Gandhi said he has "tremendous respect" for the leaders of the two parties and "they have a right to do what they want to do".
"The BSP and SP have every right to have an alliance. I think the Congress party has a tremendous amount to offer to the people of Uttar Pradesh so we will do our best as the Congress party and we will fight with full capacity to spread our ideology."
"The BSP and the SP have made a political decision. It's on us on how to strengthen the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh and we will fight with our full capacity," he said.
Gandhi also targeted Modi on the controversial Rafale fighter jets deal. "The prime minister doesn’t want to face questions on corruption, but I answer. The truth is that corruption is happening right now," he said.
Responding to the allegations that he was spoiling the image of the country, Gandhi said: "Our foundation is so strong that no one can tarnish the image. I have to answer if I am being asked questions.”
(With PTI inputs)