New Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi upped the ante against Prime Minister Narendra Modi over ‘removal’ of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Alok Verma and termed the move as ‘illegal and criminal’. He asserted that the PM knew that CBI chief was to begin an inquiry into Rafale fighter jets deal and this made him scared and in turn, a panic-stricken PMO forced the CBI Director to go on leave at 2 AM to frantically bury the corruption track.

“CBI Director can be removed by Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India (CJI) and Leader of Opposition together. Appointment is also done by these three,” he said. Adding that the PM did not consult with the CJI and Leader of Opposition before taking the action, he termed the move as an insult to the Constitution of India, CJI, Leader of Opposition and Indian people.

Adding further, he said, “CBI Director was not only removed, his room was sealed. The incriminating documents that were with him were taken away and that is why the work was done at 2 AM. Not only the Director is being removed, efforts are also made to suppress evidence.”

He also questioned decision to hand over the interim charge to M Nageshwar Rao and said, “The charge of CBI has been given to a man who has cases registered against him. Why? Because the PM can control him and that no inquiry can be conducted into Rafale.”

Questioning PM Modi’s silence over the matter, the Congress chief said, “Throughout all this the Prime Minister has not said a word. Main aapke samne aata hu, aap mujhse jo sawal poochna chahate ho poochte ho. Aap PM ko yahan baitha do aur unke samne 3-4 sawal Rafale pe puch lo.Table se uth ke bhaag jayange (I come in front of you. You ask me whatever question you want to ask me. You make the PM sit here and ask him 3-4 questions related to Rafale. He will leave the table and run away).”

CBI chief Alok Verma and Number 2 Rakesh Asthana were sent on leave late Tuesday (October 23) amid the allegations against them. As an interim measure, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave charge of the CBI to Joint Director M Nageswar Rao, an Odisha-cadre officer, with immediate effect