Rahul Gandhi on Thursday attacked the Modi government for sending the CBI chief on leave since he was keen to probe the Rafale deal.

NEW DELHI: Escalating attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Centre’s recent action against CBI director Alok Verma, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said that the BJP government was ”panic-stricken due to the ongoing probe into the Rafale defence scam.”

”Prime Minister Narendra Modi removed the CBI chief in the middle of the night because he was scared the agency was about to start probing the Rafale fighter jet deal,” Rahul said while addressing a press conference in the national capital.

”The appointment and removal of the CBI director is done by a committee of three people which includes PM, CJI and the Leader of Opposition. But at 2 AM in the night, the CBI director was removed. This is an insult to the Constitution, an insult to the CJI, an insult to the people of India and is illegal and criminal,” Rahul said.

Accusing the PM of indulging in rampant corruption, the Congress chief said, ”PM’s reaction was in a panic. He is scared that he indulged in corruption and he could get caught.”

”The haste in which the PM acted shows that he knows that the moment the CBI probe begins in Rafale scam, he will be finished,” Rahul said.

Alleging a conspiracy behind the Centre’s action against Verma, Rahul said, ”efforts are also being made to suppress evidence in the Rafale scam.”

”CBI director was not only removed, but his room was also sealed. The incriminating documents that were with him were taken away and that is why the work was done at 2 AM. Not only the director is being removed, but efforts are being made to suppress evidence,” he said.

”The charge of the CBI has now been given to a man who has cases registered against him. Why? Because the PM can control him and that no inquiry can be conducted into the Rafale scam,” he added.

The Gandhi scion continued by saying that the ”PM Modi is involved in a big theft as he siphoned off Rs 30,000 crore of the taxpayers’ money and gave it to industrialist Anil Ambani. He will get caught sooner or later.”

”Throughout all this, the Prime Minister has not said a word. We are an Opposition party and we are here before you. We will continue to do our job and will not leave PM Modi. People of this country will also not spare his government,” the Congress chief said.

The Congress chief also came down heavily on the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for defending the Centre’s move of sending the CBI chief Alok Verma, his deputy Rakesh Asthana and a special director AK Sharma on leave amid infighting in the central probe agency.

”The FM defends Centre, but remains silent on his daughter’s alleged links to PNB bank loan defaulter Mehul Choksi,” Rahul said.

Gandhi had made a similar allegation on Wednesday when he began his two-day Rajasthan trip, which happened to coincide with the shake-up at the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had already dismissed as “rubbish” allegations that CBI director Alok Verma was sent on leave because he wanted to investigate the Rafale deal.

On Thursday, talking to Mahila Congress workers in Kota and later at a rally in Sikar, Rahul Gandhi attacked the Centre over the Rafale and the CBI issue again.

He also mocked PM Modi over an earlier remark that he wanted to be the country’s watchman against corruption.

”Two days ago the watchman did something new. It was not done in the daytime, but when people of the country were sleeping,” he said, referring to the government action against the CBI chief.

”I feel sad that one watchman has defamed all watchmen of the country. These watchmen are not at fault as they are working honestly. We are talking about an individual who had asked to be made a ‘chowkidar’ rather than the prime minister,” Gandhi said at the ‘Maha Sankalp’ rally in Sikar district.

Rahul Gandhi repeated the allegation that the Prime Minister paved the way for Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group to bag a Rafale-related offset deal – a charge which both the government and the Reliance Group had rejected earlier.

Gandhi also mentioned the sacrifices of Army jawans from the state’s Shekhawati region, linking them again to the fighter deal with France and the alleged favouritism towards the Reliance Group.

He repeated the Congress allegation that the Rafale jets were being procured at a much higher price than what was being negotiated while the UPA government was in power.

He claimed the Defence Ministry and the Indian Air Force were not consulted.

”The Defence Ministry and the IAF worked for years on the contract. But the Prime Minister, without asking the Defence Minister or the Defence Ministry or the IAF, changed the contract of Rs 30,000 crore,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi’s attack on the Modi government came days after a late-night order from the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet led by the PM Modi sent Verma and CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who were at loggerheads, on leave on Tuesday.


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