Even as the tussle within India’s premier investigating agency has triggered a massive political fight, Leader of the Opposition in Tamil Nadu and DMK President MK Stalin has raised suspicion over the removal of CBI chief Alok Verma.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Stalin wrote, “Director Alok Verma being sent on leave at a crucial time appears motivated with #RafaleScam under the scanner. The appointment of a corrupt officer as interim head of #CBI is equally questionable. Institutional freedom is facing serious threat under PM Modi's Govt.”
He also questioned the appointment of M Nageshwar Rao as the Interim CBI Director.
According to a report in Puthiya Thalaimurai, Stalin has reportedly said that Interim CBI Director M Nageshwar Rao was a controversial figure during his posting as Joint Director in Chennai. He also claimed that Nageshwar Rao had visited current Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam when the latter was CM for a short period between between December 6 and February.
“When CBI is investigating gutkha scam and the Madras High Court has ordered an investigation against Edappadi Palaniswami for awarding contracts to his relatives, the move to send CBI director Alok Verma has raised suspicions,” the DMK Chief was quoted as saying by ANI.
Nageshwar Rao met OPS at the state secretariat. When CBI is investigating Gutkha scam & MHC has ordered an investigation against EPS for awarding contracts to his relatives, the move to send CBI director Alok Verma has raised suspicions: DMK Chief MK Stalin— ANI (@ANI) October 24, 2018
He also remarked that the appointment of an officer of Inspector General rank as CBI Interim Director amounts to an abuse of power.
It is to be noted that Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami are both currently facing a CBI probe.
In June this year, the DMK had written to the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) alleging corruption in the allocation of five highways project contracts to various firms owned by relatives of Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami. The party alleged that the tender for the four-laning of the Tirunelveli-Sengottai-Kollam highway on SH 39 has been awarded Venkatachalapathy Constructions, reportedly owned by P Subramaniam, the father-in-law of Edappadi Palaniswami’s son Mithun.
In the gutkha scam probe, the CBI has, till date, arrested 6 people in connection with the multi-crore scam. The Madras High Court had transferred the case to the CBI in May and the agency registered an FIR the same month. As CBI has conducted raids in over 35 locations across the country.
Meanwhile, the Opposition in India is up in arms against the removal of Alok Verma as the CBI chief after the internal tussle between him and CBI special director Rakesh Asthana split wide open. The CBI under Alok Verma on October 21 had charged Asthana with accepting a bribe of Rs 2 crore to settle a case against controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi, who has been arrested on charges of fraud and money laundering.