New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi panicked anticipating a probe into the controversial India-France Rafale deal and termed the temporary removal of Central bureau of Investigation director from his official post as illegal.
"Appointment and removal of CBI director are done by a committee of three people -- the Prime Minister, Chief Judge of India and the Leader of Opposition. The Prime Minister removed CBI Director at 2 am in the night. This is illegal and criminal. This is an insult to the Constitution, an insult to the CJI, an insult to the Leader of Opposition and insult to people of India," he said while addressing the media here.
Linking relieving of CBI Director Alok Verma with the alleged Rafale probe, which, he claimed, was about to be conducted by the central probe agency, Gandhi scion said, "I want to question the timing. The main reason for this is that the CBI was going to begin an investigation into the role of the Prime Minister on Rafale and the corruption that was carried out by the Prime Minister in Rafale. Prime Minister removed CBI director in panic. He is scared that he indulged in corruption and he could get caught," he said.
Rahul later asserted that the CBI director has been sent on indefinite leave as the Prime Minister cannot remove him without consulting the Chief Justice and Leader of the Opposition.
He also questioned the appointment of M Nageshwar Rao as interim director of CBI and said, "It is illegal for a new man to be given charge of CBI. The charge of CBI has been given to a man who has cases registered against him. Why? Because the PM can control him and through him, he wants to ensure that no inquiry can be conducted into Rafale."
The Gandhi scion also claimed that more institutions are going to be used to protect the Prime Minister.
"Prime Minister is an experienced man and he knows that as soon as the inquiry of Rafale in CBI begins, he will be finished. It was a suicide for the Prime Minister to allow a CBI probe," he added.
Gandhi also attacked Prime Minister Modi for not speaking on the issue of Rafale and said, "Throughout all this, the Prime Minister has not said a word. I come in front of media, scribes can ask me questions whatever they want to ask. Can you make the Prime Minister sit and ask three-four questions concerning Rafale? He will get up from the place and run away."
On being asked about the statement of Dassault, in which it had refuted any speculations of wrongdoings in the deal, Gandhi said: "Do you realise what happens to Dassault if they say anything other than what the government (Indian) wants? The then president of France Hollande was the person who signed the deal with the PM. Hollande understands what is what. Prior to Dassault's statement, our Defence Minister went to its factory."
Meanwhile, CBI official spokesperson on Thursday confirmed that Alok Verma will continue to remain CBI Director, Rakesh Asthana to remain Special Director. M Nageshwar Rao will look after duties and functions of the CBI Director in the interim period till the time CVC looks into the allegations, it said.