New Delhi: Activists and leaders of the Congress, under the leadership of party president Rahul Gandhi, held protests across the country against CBI Director Alok Verma being divested of his powers and to demand an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Gandhi, along with senior leaders such as Ashok Gehlot and Bhupinder Singh Hooda, courted arrest as part of his protest after leading hundreds of his party’s workers in a march to the CBI headquarters in the national capital.
The Congress will not allow the “chowkidaar” (watchman) to do “chori” (theft), Gandhi said, reiterating his charges of corruption against the prime minister and saying he had “deposited Rs 30,000 crore in Anil Ambani’s pocket”.
Gandhi alleged that the prime minister has deceived the nation, and that the government’s overnight act of removing the CBI chief was an “act of panic”.
“PM can run, he can hide but in the end, truth will be revealed. Removing CBI Director will not help. PM acted against CBI Director; it was an act out of panic,” he said.
Meanwhile, ministers and activists of Congress and other opposition parties in Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat, Karnataka and Telangana took to the streets to protest against the ongoing CBI crisis and the government’s move to remove the agency’s Director.
In Mumbai, Congress workers staged a demonstration outside the CBI office. The protesting Congress workers also raised slogans against the prime minister.
City Congress president Sanjay Nirupam, who led the protest outside the CBI office in suburban Bandra, accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “removing” Verma “illegally and by going against the Constitution”.
In Chandigarh, police barricaded roads leading to the CBI office in Sector 30 and after the protesters tried to cross the barricades, the police used water canons to disperse them.
The protesters had to move back from the barricades erected near the CBI office, the police said.
Several ministers, including Sukhwinder Singh Randhawa and Vijay Inder Singla, and were among the agitating party members.
Incharge of the Punjab Congress’ affairs Asha Kumari, Punjab and Haryana Congress chiefs Sunil Kumar Jakhar and Ashok Tanwar led the protesters, the Congress said.
Meanwhile, over 40 Congress workers and leaders from Gujarat, including eight MLAs and former state unit chief were detained.
Before their detention, Congressmen took out a one km-long march – from a church to the CBI office located in sector 10 of the state capital- to protest against the move to divest CBI Director Alok Verma of his powers.
In Telangana, the Congress, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and CPI held a demonstration in front of the CBI office in Hyderabad. Congress, TDP and CPI are part of a “grand alliance” for the December 7 Legislative Assembly elections in Telangana.
AICC incharge for Telangana RC Khuntia, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president N Uttam Kumar Reddy, TDP Telangana unit president L Ramana and CPI state secretary Chada Venkat Reddy led the protest.
In Jharkhand, activists and leaders of Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee (JPCC) staged a demonstration outside CBI office in Dhanbad. At Ranchi, the party workers burnt an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that the NDA government’s action against Verma was “illegal and unconstitutional”.
CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana have been sent on leave amid an ongoing spat between them.
The prime minister-led appointments committee in an order Tuesday night has given charge of director to Joint Director M Nageshwara Rao with immediate effect.
The opposition has claimed that PM Modi is experiencing what they call “Rafale-o-Phobia”, and the “demolition of the CBI” was prompted by fears that the director was going to conduct a probe into the Rafale fighter jet deal.
However, the government, rejected the charges. “Congress doesn’t have any people’s issues to raise that is why they are taking up these non-issues. We should wait for the investigation report,” said Home Minister Rajnath Singh.