In the backdrop of the feud between the Number 1 and Number 2 of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), CBI Director Alok Verma or Special Director Asthana have been placed on leave. All officers who were allegedly closely associated with the CBI Director Alok Verma or Special Director Rakesh Asthana have been transferred and moved out. But in an interesting turn of events, it is Prashant Bhushan who has stated that he would challenge government's order to send CBI director Alok Verma on leave in the court of law.
On Wednesday morning, Prashant Bhushan seemingly connected the entire CBI overhaul to the Rafale deal. He said “Perhaps in order to prevent an investigation into the Rafale deal the government has last night at midnight ordered the removal the present director Shri. Alok Verma and has appointed one Mr. Nageshwar Rao as the acting director despite the fact that Nageshwar Rao has several serious complaints against him.”
Prashant Bhushan has been vocal about his position in the CBI dispute.
Here is what Prashant Bhushan tweeted on Wednesday morning:
Prashant Bhushan, alongside former Union Minister Arun Shourie met the CBI Director Alok Verma on 4th October, 2018 to demand a probe into the Rafale deal. Interestingly, it was just 15 days after this 45 minute interaction that the CBI had filed an FIR with the Delhi Police naming CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana as an accused.
But Prashant Bhushan's disapproval of the CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana is not recent. It was in November 2017, that Prashant Bhushan had filed a petition on behalf of an NGO in the Supreme Court challenging Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as Special Director of CBI alleging that the appointment was done in violation of rules and regulation. A year ago, in October, 2017, Prashant Bhushan took to Twitter to speak against Asthana’s appointment. Interestingly, this was the time when that CBI Director Alok Verma shot the first arrow by writing to the CVC in October 2017 against Asthana’s promotion as CBI Special Director.
Fact of the matter is, Prashant Bhushan is not the only one colouring and connecting the CBI dispute with the Rafale deal.
Randeep Surjewala, In-charge,Communications, All India Congress Committee took to Twitter to float a Rafale deal theory and wrote, “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?”
Furthermore, addressing a press conference on Wednesday over the massive shakeup in the CBI, the Congress alleged that the government has Rafale-o-mania and Rafale-o-phobia.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury speaking to the media alleged that a “political coup” had been conducted. He said “ Modi government and the Prime Minister have conducted a coup against the CBI. THis is nothing short of a coup. They have conducted this coup, transferred all the officers and the director, and the main objective appears to be to protect the chosen officers of the Prime Minister who were posted in the CBI. And, in order to protect them, we do not know if the CBI was investigating other issues like the Rafale scam.”
The Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia in a tweet tried to draw link between the Rafale deal and the CBI Director being sent on leave. He wrote “heard that the ‘Rafale-deal’ was about to investigated but instead the CBI Director was sent on leave.”
The allegations of the Rafale deal being linked to the case come despite the fact that the CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana was accused on bribery allegations in the Moin Qureshi case and his own allegations on CBI Director Alok Verma, in his letters to the CVC and Cabinet Secretary, pertained to corruption as well.