PM’s boy in CBI caught, says Rahul

Rahul was highlighting that CBI special director and No. 2 Rakesh Asthana, booked by his own agency on the charge of taking bribes

  • Published 23.10.18, 3:28 AM
  • Updated 23.10.18, 3:28 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Rahul Gandhi File picture

Rahul Gandhi on Monday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi citing the infighting within the CBI while his party colleagues stressed that corruption charges against the highest officials of the premier investigating agency were a matter of deep concern.

“The PM’s blue-eyed boy, Gujarat cadre officer, of Godhra SIT fame, infiltrated as No. 2 into the CBI, has now been caught taking bribes,” Rahul tweeted.

“Under this PM, the CBI is a weapon of political vendetta. An institution in terminal decline that’s at war with itself.”

Rahul was highlighting that CBI special director and No. 2 Rakesh Asthana, booked by his own agency on the charge of taking bribes to give relief to a businessman he was probing, is perceived to be close to Modi.

The central government had courted controversy in December 2016 by appointing the Gujarat-cadre IPS officer, then an additional director, as acting CBI chief, ignoring candidates short-listed for the director’s post.

Asthana had overseen the initial probe into the Godhra train fire that led to the 2002 Gujarat riots, and was later assigned high-profile cases such as the corruption case against Lalu Prasad and his family and the AgustaWestland chopper case.

Asthana, caught in a feud with CBI director Alok Verma, had in August written to the cabinet secretary alleging the businessman had paid Verma Rs 2 crore to get relief in the case.

“Can people have faith in CBI when CBI has no faith in its special director, accused of corruption by the CBI itself?” Congress senior Kapil Sibal tweeted.

“CBI functions under department of personnel and training of which the minister in charge is PM. Why is PM silent?”

Congress media cell chief Randeep Surjewala tweeted a report that suggested the CBI had raided its own headquarters and added the acerbic comment: “What the Congress could not do in 60 years, Modi has managed in five years.”

Asked about the internal strife in the agency, Sachin Pilot told a news conference: “It is very apparent that there is a power play; there is blame game. The kind of allegations being made at the top level of the CBI are very alarming and certainly something is wrong somewhere.

“I don’t think the government is willing to come out clean on what is going on. There are serious allegations, according to the media reports, that within the CBI much is happening which is unwanted and people are being accused of corruption at the highest level.”

Pilot added: “How do we trust the CBI to look at corruption issues when their top people are themselves involved and allegations are flying thick and fast? The fact that it has reached this point tells you how long and how deep the rot may be within this government.

“It is the CBI’s top officers who are accusing each other of massive corruption. Where is the sanctity, where is the credibility of this government and the CBI to function in an honest, unbiased transparent way?”

He went on: “So, there are serious credibility issues and I think there are vested interests within the government and within the CBI that have brought this agency to such a pass. Let us not forget what the courts have called the CBI.

“Today, what the people are feeling and what they are thinking about the functioning and the credibility and the integrity of the CBI is hugely under question. And I think that more than the officers, it is the people in the government who are responsible for bringing the CBI to such a pass.”