- On Rafale Deal, Rahul Gandhi said PM Modi will be caught
- He said CBI director's transfer was a panic reaction
- PM Modi has resorted to corruption, he said
Alok Verma, the chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation, was sent on indefinite leave to pre-empt an investigation into the Prime Minister's role in the Rafale deal, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said on Thursday. The timing of the move - late on Tuesday evening - was a "panic reaction" on part of the government, but "PM Modi will be caught, the nation won't let the PM escape," the Congress chief added in his strongest attack so far over the 36-aircraft deal with France.
The Congress has said the government's action -- transferring the CBI director and his entire team -- amounts to a "grave violation of the law, the Supreme Court's clear directions on the subject and the Constitution of India". The party plans to stage a protest outside the CBI headquarters today and take up the issue of the credibility of the agency.
"Understand the PM's mental state... he knows a CBI probe would affect his political prospects... PM Modi has resorted to corruption, he is now scared," Mr Gandhi said at a press conference in Delhi.
The Prime Minister, he said, has not said a word through all this, Mr Gandhi said.
"For the first time, the President of a country has called an Indian Prime Minister a thief and the Prime Minister is silent," he added, pointing at French media reports that former French President Francois Hollande's remark that the Indian government had proposed Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as the India partner in the Rafale deal and that France had not been given a choice.
Both government and Anil Ambani have denied any wrongdoing. The government said it was Dassault, the French firm manufacturing the aircraft, which picked Reliance Defence as its India partner and it had nothing to do with what was essentially a commercial pact between two private parties.
But the opposition has repeatedly attacked the government over what it called its "Rafale-phobia" since the government's surprise intervention on Tuesday evening.
Days before he was sent on leave, the CBI chief had met former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who had given him a written request to investigate the Rafale deal. The centre was reportedly upset about the meeting.
Yesterday, after Mr Verma and his number 2 -- who have been at loggerheads for months - were asked to go on leave, the former minsters and Mr Bhushan approached the Supreme Court, asking for a police case.
The chief of the country's premier investigating agency cannot be removed without the concurrence of the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition in parliament, who are also part of the committee that appoints him, Mr Gandhi said.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar later hit back, saying Mr Gandhi "lives in hallucinations" and his party has lost all hope of staying relevant.
"People are asking us why did you not intervene in time because of the anarchy in CBI, but we never interfere," he added.
Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal.