CBI vs CBI or simply ‘Rafale-o-phobia’- Impact on 2019 Lok Sabha Elections


TNT ANALYSIS | October 24, 2018

As internal disputes within the country's premier investigation agency, the CBI continues to taint its motto–"The fight against corruption", the conflict between top leadership of CBI is now interestingly being linked to the controversial Rafale Deal for which the present government is under scanner ahead of the Lok Sabha Election 2019.


At the backdrop of feud between the Number 1 and Number 2 of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), CBI Director Alok Verma and 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.

Interestingly, Senior lawyer Peashant Bhushan in a tweet today said, "Immediately after illegally removing the Director CBI, Alok Verma & illegally appointing tainted officer Nageshwar Rao as acting Director, the entire ACB team particularly those investigating PMO's blue eyed boy Asthana, are being replaced with alacrity! It is Modi's CBI Gate".

He has also stated that he would challenge the removal of Alok Verma as CBI chief in court.

Nageshwar Rao, who has replaced Verma as acting director, is the first IG-level official ever to be chief of the CBI. Sources indicate that Verma wanted action against him too but the Chief Vigilance Commissioner, K.V. Chowdhary resisted. Rao's first decisions have been to move the officials who were investigating Asthana out of headquarters.

Tripura Congress holds meet to highlight alleged Rafale Fighter Jet scam

It may be recalled that 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 is not the only person who has been vocal and against the removal of Alok Verma. In-charge,Communications, All India Congress Committee, Randeep Singh Surjewala also took to Twitter linking the CBI upheaval and the Rafale Deal. He Tweeted: "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?"

It may also be mentioned that Verma was selected by a high-powered collegium including the Chief of Justice of India for a protected tenure "not less than two years" that ends in January 2019 – was readying himself to initiate a preliminary enquiry (PE) in to the Modi government's controversial decision to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft from Dassault Aviation, with a major part of the offset contracts going to an Anil Ambani-led company.

Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group has since then been on a spree of sending notices to individuals and organizations, NDTV being one of them. NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group in a court in Ahmedabad for its reportage on the Rafale fighter jet deal.

And while this case will definitely work in favour of some political parties who will surely not miss a chance to gain mileage from it, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already begun to be projected as 'Distatorial', 'Autocratic' and 'Unconstitutional' in his ways.

Prashant Bhushan's Tweet this morning clearly overshadows the 'Turf of War' image being projected as the main cause of huddle within the CBI as projected by several media channels. And as 2019 Lok Sabha Elections come knocking at the door, this case is definitely not portraying the Centre as an appealing choice for the masses. However, only time will tell what the consequence will be.

The writer can be reached at shweta@thenortheasttoday.com