Rahul Gandhi today seized on the Supreme Court order reinstating exiled CBI chief Alok Verma to reinforce his petition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government on the Rafale jet deal.
The top court today set aside the government’s post-midnight order on October 23 to divest Mr. Verma of his powers, send him and his deputy Rakesh Asthana on mandatory leave and appoint an interim chief. The court barred Mr. Verma from taking any major policy decisions, saying that any further decision on him would be taken by a high-powered selection committee comprising the Prime Minister, the leader of the biggest opposition party and the Chief Justice of India.
“The CBI chief was removed at 1 am because he was going to start an inquiry into the Rafale deal,” Rahul Gandhi said, further adding that justice had been done with his reinstatement.
“Nothing is going to save the PM from Rafale. The evidence is open and shut,” said the Congress chief, questioned whether the government’s midnight move was linked to the Rafale allegations.
“It is pretty clear that the prime minister has helped Anil Ambani get Rs. 30,000 crores. 100 percent, without a shadow of a doubt, the nation will know this,” he claimed.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, responding to the court order, said the government was not biased against anyone and that it took the step to protect the CBI’s integrity and credibility as its top two, Mr. Verma and Mr. Asthana, were fighting.
The Congress and other opposition parties allege that the government went for a less-than-lucrative deal for 36 Rafale jets with France’s Dassault so that Anil Ambani’s inexperienced defense company could snag an offset contract with Dassault.
The offset clause means that in exchange for the contract, Dassault has to invest half the value of the deal — about Rs. 30,000 crores — in Indian firms. Reliance Defence was chosen as one of those “offset” partners and is to manufacture plane parts – though not for the 36 jets ordered by India.