The midnight removal of CBI chief Alok Verma on October 23 was reportedly triggered by a meeting between R&AW chief Anil Dhasmana and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 21. Samant Kumar Goel, Special Director of R&AW and once the agency’s station director in Dubai, is mentioned in the FIR lodged by the CBI against its Special Director Rakesh Asthana, as are brothers Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad. Dhasmana complained to the PM that Verma, while instigating an FIR against own arch rival Asthana, had hurt the R&AW’s operations in Dubai. The FIR against Asthana claims that he took a bribe from Sathish Sana, a witness in meat exporter Moin Qureshi’s case, with Manoj acting as a conduit. While Goel is not named as either an accused or a witness, Manoj was arrested. He has got all his social media accounts, including Twitter and Instagram, hastily deleted. An angry PM summoned Verma the same day to hear his side of the story. Modi then asked the CBI chief to meet National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. The NSA pulled up Verma, saying he had dragged in the R&AW while trying to settle scores with Asthana.
The R&AW angle proved to be the last straw. Earlier the government, though extremely unhappy with Verma, planned to let him complete his two-year tenure, as stipulated by the apex court.
Rahul Gandhi courted arrest at a Delhi police station protesting that the Modi government was attempting to cover up the Rafael deal by hastily removing the CBI chief. The Delhi Congress failed to muster enough party workers to put up an impressive show. Eventually, the Congress had to send an SOS to Haryana leaders Deepender Hooda and Randeep Singh Surjewala to transport party workers from nearby Rohtak and Sonipat. Which explains why it was Ashok Gehlot and Deepender Hooda and no one from Delhi sitting beside Rahul at his dharna. The Delhi PCC is at the moment demoralised and headless and would offer little competition to the AAP and BJP if an election was held in the Capital. DPCC president Ajay Maken has offered to resign because of ill health, but the party has so far refused to accept his resignation. Sheela Dixit, a three-term chief minister of the Union territory, is recuperating from an operation and her son Sandeep has been kept at arm’s length. Sajjan Kumar and his son, Jagparvesh Kumar, who are adept at mobilising crowds, are also out in the cold.
Joota hai Japani
It wasn’t coincidence that Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe wore identical stylish black and white Polo slip-ons while sitting by the fireside at the Japanese premiere’s holiday home during Modi’s recent visit to Japan? It is a tradition that, when someone enters a Japanese home, the host provides sanitised footwear since heavy shoes are not worn inside the house. Polo seems to have manufactured these slip-ons especially for this.
The other clothing controversy arose after South Korean President Moon Jae-in tweeted about a ‘Modi vest’ gifted to him by the Indian PM, with people pointing out that it was actually a Nehru jacket. Indian firm Blue Jade, which made the jacket gifted to Moon, says there is a considerable difference in the style, colour and cut between his Modi vests and the Nehru jacket.
The ghastly accident at Amritsar’s Dhobi Ghat where 59 people were mowed down by a speeding train could have perhaps been avoided if the organisers of the Ram Leela followed the time-honoured tradition of consigning the Ravana effigy to the flames by sunset. According to mythology, Ravana had supernatural powers which came into effect by dusk. However, the Ram Leela had perforce to be delayed way beyond the scheduled time because Navjot Kaur Sidhu, a former MLA and the wife of local MLA Navjot Sidhu, had to attend four functions and reached the venue late. By the time the effigies were burnt, it was dark and the train driver could not see the people on the track until it was too late.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has targeted not just the Modi government but also the state’s Governor, E S L Narasimhan, whom he dubs “an agent of the Central government”. At a collectors’ conference in Vijayawada recently, Naidu claimed that the Central government along with the Governor was conspiring against him and that the recent attack on opposition leader and YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy was part of a plot to topple his government and impose President’s rule on the excuse that there was a law and order breakdown in the state.