War within CBI: Rahul Gandhi attacks PM Modi, says ‘CBI is weapon of political vendetta’

Rakesh Asthana is a 1984-batch officer from Gujarat cadre who headed the state's Special Investigation Team (SIT) that probed the burning of Sabarmati Express in Godhra in February 2002. He is seen to be close to PM Modi.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: October 25, 2018 11:25:03 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the alleged involvement of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Director Rakesh Asthana in a bribery scandal and an FIR registered by the agency against the latter. Asthana is No. 2 in the CBI hierarchy.

Terming the investigative agency as “a weapon of political vendetta”, the Congress chief, while referring to a report by The Indian Express, posted on Twitter, “The PM’s blue-eyed boy, Gujarat cadre officer, of Godra SIT fame, infiltrated as No. 2 into the CBI, has now been caught taking bribes. Under this PM, the CBI is a weapon of political vendetta. An institution in terminal decline that’s at war with itself.”

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Rakesh Asthana is a 1984-batch officer from Gujarat cadre who headed the state’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) that probed the burning of Sabarmati Express in Godhra in February 2002. He is seen to be close to PM Modi.

Read | Mud flies in war within CBI, Asthana sent list against Verma, with over a dozen complaints

In its FIR, the CBI has named Asthana as Accused Number 1 for demanding and taking bribe from a businessman who was under investigation in the Moin Qureshi corruption case by a SIT headed by Asthana. Besides this, on September 21, the agency had said that it had informed the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) that it was investigating Asthana in six cases of corruption. It added that Asthana was maligning Director Alok Verma’s image and trying to “intimidate” officials by sending a “frivolous” complaint to the CVC against Verma.

Read | FIR by CBI against Rakesh Asthana followed statement by Moin Qureshi case accused

The fault lines within the agency came to light when Asthana later listed more than a dozen charges against Verma and other top agency officials, double the number of complaints against him.

However, top government sources told The Indian Express, while the wars within the CBI had “gone too far”, the rumours of either Verma or Asthana being offered alternative assignments were wrong. They said it was up to the CVC, which supervises the CBI’s functioning, to act on the spate of complaints from warring camps.

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