Alok Verma removed as CBI chief, opposition attacks government
A day after he resumed duties, CBI Director Alok Verma was on Thursday unceremoniously removed from the post after a 2-1 decision by the high-level Selection Committee, a decision that came under attack from the opposition and legal experts.
 
The decision of the committee came after CJI nominee Justice A.K. Sikri of the Supreme Court sided with the government that Verma should be shunted out of the post on the basis of the findings of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which went into some allegations levelled against him. 
 
The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Justice Sikri and Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, the other member of the committee, who gave a dissent note and opposed the majority decision.
 
Shortly after the meeting, Verma was appointed Director General, Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guard till January 31 when his tenure would end.
 
The government also brought back M. Nageswara Rao, Additional Director, CBI to look after the duties of the Director, CBI till the appointment of a new Director or until further orders, whichever is earlier, a notification by the Appointment Committee of Cabinet said.
 
Verma, who was removed from the agency's helm on the midnight of October 23 after his fight with Special Director Rakesh Asthana became public, was reinstated on Tuesday by the apex court on the ground that the government cannot transfer or alter the duties of the CBI chief without going to the Selection Committee.
 
The committee's members are the Prime Minister, leader of the largest opposition group and the Chief Justice of India. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who heard the case arising out of Verma's challenge against the government decision, nominated Justice Sikri as his nominee to attend the committee meeting. 
 
The Supreme Court, while reinstating Verma, had said that the Committee should meet within a week and decide the issue afresh. 
 
Modi convened the meeting of the committee on Wednesday but Kharge sought the CVC report on the allegations against Verma and also time to study it. The committee met briefly and decided to meet on Thursday. 
 
Sources said the Committee took into account the "extremely serious" nature of observations made by the Central Vigilance Commission against Verma.
 
It was of the view that being the head of a very sensitive organisation, Verma was not functioning with the integrity expected of him, they said. 
 
They said the CVC found evidence of influencing of investigation in the Moin Qureshi case. There was also evidence of taking of bribe of Rs. 2 crore. The CVC was of the view that his conduct in the case is suspicious, and there is a prima facie case against him. 
 
"The CVC also felt that the entire truth will come out if a criminal investigation is ordered," the sources said citing the Committee's view. 
 
In the IRCTC case related to former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, the CVC felt that it can be reasonably concluded that Verma "deliberately" excluded a name from the FIR for reasons best known to him.
 
The CVC found evidence against Verma in several other cases as well. The CVC also found instances of wilful non-production of record, and fabrication of record. The Committee also took note of Verma's attempts to induct officers of doubtful integrity in the CBI.
 
On the criticism that Verma was not given an opportunity of being heard on the charges against him, the sources said Verma was given an opportunity to present his case before the CVC in the presence of retired Justice A. K. Patnaik. 
 
The Supreme Court also provided a copy of the CVC report to Verma's advocate. The mandate of the Selection Panel headed by the PM is limited to the appointment of the CBI chief and transfer of the CBI chief, the sources said.
 
The Committee felt that as a detailed investigation, including criminal investigation, was necessary in some cases his continuation as CBI Director was not desirable and he should be transferred.
 
In his dissent note, Kharge demanded that the Committee restore to Verma the full powers he enjoyed by the office of the Director CBI to ensure proper functioning of the organisation and to restore normalcy. He also sought an additional period of 77 days being the number of days lost by him on account of the "patently illegal" orders of the CVC and the personnel department on October 28. 
 
Kharge said an independent investigation must be carried out to verify the actual events that took place on the night of October 23-24 with respect to Verma's removal as CBI Director. 
 
Referring to the events of the midnight drama in October and the way the government hastened the exit of Verma would "point to the fact that the entire exercise was in furtherance of a pre-meditated decision to remove Verma as CBi Director with reasons and processes being manufactured as an afterthought". 
 
He urged the Committee to allow Verma to explain himself before it on the charges against him before any decision is taken in the matter. 
 
Kharge also listed the various allegations made against Verma including influencing the investigation by taking bribe and illegal delay in finalising the probe report in a bank fraud case which were not substantiated, Kharge also listed and said in the light of the above it would be grossly unfair not to restore Verma to the post of the CBI chief and compensating for the loss of 77 days by extending his tenure by that period. 
 
Meanwhile, the removal of Verma as CBI Director came under severe attack from opposition parties and legal experts saying it was the "desperation" of the government as Modi does not want any probe into the Rafale jet deal.
 
The critics of the decision also asked how the committee could take a decision without hearing Verma.
 
The Congress criticised the committee's decision and said Modi had shown that he was "too afraid" of an investigation into the Rafale deal. 
 
"By removing Alok Verma from his position without giving him the chance to present his case, PM Modi has shown once again that he's too afraid of an investigation, either by an independent CBI Director or by Parliament via JPC," the Congress tweeted. 
 
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said if it was a majority decision to remove Verma, then it was unfortunate. "I don't know why Verma was not asked to reply to the charges against him. I have very poor opinion of the CVC," he said.
 
Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan saw a conflict of interest in the role of the Prime Minister, who is part of the three-member committee that also has Leader of the Congress group in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and the CJI nominated representative Justice A.K. Sikri of the Supreme Court.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Netas Roll up Sleeves: Which Way Will the Poll Pendulum Sway?
It would not be a cliché to say that the forthcoming national elections would be one of the most important and, probably, one of the most bitterly fought elections in independent India. The election fever is already high and everyone seems to be waiting with bated breath to find out what surprises it throws up. While the outcome of one election does not determine the fate of a nation, it does provide clear indications of the direction the country is taking.
 
No one polarises opinions in the manner in which the current prime minister Narendra Modi does. The two diametrically opposing camps vehemently espouse their points of view in a no-holds-barred manner. The first believes that the sincere efforts Mr Modi is making are not being appreciated due to the pathological hatred for him; in fact, his efforts are deliberately and seriously being undermined. 
 
They feel he needs one more term to turn the country around and anything else would dilute the impact of the commendable work he has already accomplished over the past five years. 
 
The second set of people believe Mr Modi’s tenure to be a disaster that has undermined the very idea of India and the sooner we have an alternative government, the better for the country.
 
They say a week is a long time in politics; 12 months being an eternity. The past 12 months seem to have brought about a very significant transformation in election prospects. From a time when the second term for Mr Modi was a foregone conclusion, there now appears a realistic chance of displacing him, especially after the outcome of the elections in various states last month. How convincing is that assessment? 
 
The general elections are still a few months away, which happens to be more than ‘a week’. A lot can happen during that period. We can make an assessment on the basis of the situation prevailing now and what we believe is likely to happen over the coming months. 
 
I believe there are two critical factors which will determine the outcome of the national elections. First, how successful can the Opposition be in putting up single, united candidates in each of the 542 electoral constituencies? 
 
The Opposition parties and their leaders have to be ruthless in assessing each and every seat to put up the most viable candidate or party, without being swayed by any alternate or extraneous concerns. Set aside your ego, animosity, historical skirmishes and any other considerations that are likely to side track winning ability. You will sink or swim together. 
 
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) steered by Mr Modi is likely to muster sufficiently large number of votes in most constituencies to be able to defeat a divided Opposition. The only way out is to be firmly and ruthlessly united. 
 
Obviously, the Opposition leaders are acutely aware of this fact. Many amongst them must view the ensuing elections as probably their last chance to remain relevant in Indian politics and not be pushed into oblivion. 
Mr Modi’s rise has already dented their political prospects; they can hardly afford to suffer another setback. They will also be helped by their pathological hatred of Mr Modi and the political ideology he represents and practises. 
 
If, despite this, they do not present a united front, they have no hope and the electorate will vote for one more term for the BJP and Mr Modi who will acquire an aura of invincibility that will take a long time for the Opposition to shake off.
 
The second is the narrative in the run up to the elections. Let us face the fact that there is no other leader who can even remotely compete with Mr Modi in setting the agenda for debate. 
 
This is despite Congress party chief Rahul Gandhi’s recent upsurge in popularity and renewed confidence; he apparently appears far more comfortable in his role than he ever did before. 
 
It is Mr Modi who will decide the narrative for the national elections. It is he who will determine what becomes a core issue, which the voters will vote on. Will it be religion and caste and the accompanying divisiveness that he banks on? Will it be development and the economy; does he feel confident of his performance over the past five years and of having delivered on his promises?
 
Will Mr Modi present himself as a messiah who is destined to single-handedly take India forward into the 21st century? Or, will he have the humility to say that while he did make an honest attempt, his work largely remains unfulfilled. Will he be able to make himself say that he probably appreciates governance in India better now and needs the next five years to work humbly on the nuts and bolts that clog the Indian government? Arrogance and supreme confidence vs humility with sincerity?
 
I believe people are largely put off by the conceit, the egoistic behaviour and over the top claims unfailingly made by the BJP and Mr Modi. If he continues in the same mode during the elections, the electorate is quite capable of teaching him a lesson. On the other hand, a humble, honest, down to earth avatar will jell more with them and the results might be more to his liking. 
 
Will he be able to shed his ego especially after enjoying years of popularity and unfettered power and set the narrative accordingly? Or do the BJP and Mr Modi believe that his personal appeal to the voters is sufficient to sway them in their favour? 
 
He is smart, in fact, very smart and knows the pulse of the people in the same manner that Indira Gandhi did decades back. But, as with Mrs Gandhi, a few years in power are bound to create a chasm in the relationship with voters and the connect with the grassroots gets easily broken. Which version of Mr Modi we see during the campaign would be interesting not only for behavioural scientists but will also determine the outcome of one of the most crucial elections in modern India. 
 
(Sunil Mahajan, a financial consultant and teacher, has over three decades experience in the corporate sector, consultancy and academics.).
 
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COMMENTS

Ashish M

2 months ago

Dear Debasish and Sucheta, Moneylife is a great platform for financial education and awareness. Please don't make it a political 'akhada.' Let political magazines focus on that.

Anand Vaidya

2 months ago

I consider this article biased and not worth a read. Amazing untruths fills this article. eg:

"It is Mr Modi who will decide the narrative for the national elections. It is he who will determine what becomes a core issue, which the voters will vote on. Will it be religion and caste and the accompanying divisiveness that he banks on?"

I think Modi is the first Indian politician to eschew narrow caste/religion divisions and has rolled out programs which are not caste/religion specific (Jan Dhan, Health Insurance, Electricity for all etc etc). Whereas it is the oppisition rag-tag army of leftists who support armed Maoists and selfish crooks who divide the country on the basis of language, religion and caste.

Want an example? The JDS-Cong gov in Karnataka is scheming to split Karnataka into two states by whipping up sentiments of people. Congress has been playing dirty tricks to split Lingayats from Hinduism. They split Jains from Hindu fold Didn;t they?

Meenal Mamdani

2 months ago

I am not in either camp. I assess Modi on his performance.

On the plus side are his economic reforms, primarily the Bankruptcy act. The other reforms such as GST are good but BJP cannot claim ownership of that idea. UPA started it and it was vehemently opposed by BJP while it was in the Opposition.
On the negative side are primarily his divisive rhetoric on religious minorities which has created a climate of fear in areas where the power of BJP fringe is dominant.

Modi's ego will not let him admit errors, like demonetization and bungled roll out of GST.

I agree that Rahul is yet to prove himself and there is no other pol of national stature to combat Modi's charisma.

My hope is that BJP returns to power with a significantly reduced number of seats so that it needs help from other parties. This will dilute Modi's power and force him to consult others before making arbitrary decisions. It would be great if Gadkari would displace Modi but that is a long shot.

Liju Philip

2 months ago

The biggest disaster to ever grace the PM seat has been modi. If he canvasses on that point, then maybe some people will at least vote for him for the honesty. But then modi and honesty are two parallel tracks that never meet.

Francis Xavier R

2 months ago

" It is Mr Modi who will decide the narrative for the national elections. It is he who will determine what becomes a core issue, which the voters will vote on ". Can't agree.

Remember, even with Vajpayee's "India Shining" campaign, BJP lost. At that time, actually India was economically performing well.

Modi had lost a good opportunity to make a difference. He just proved, BJP is just another avatar of Congress.

At best BJP can win around 100 seats.

REPLY

VIVEK SINGH

In Reply to Francis Xavier R 2 months ago

Yea , like you are only going to decide that BJP will get 100 seat and Congress will get 282+ seats

Parliament passes upper caste quota Bill
Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Parliament on Wednesday passed a landmark Constitution amendment bill providing for 10 per cent reservation to upper castes in government jobs and higher educational institutions, with the Rajya Sabha voting it late in the night after rejecting a demand for referring it to a select committee for detailed scrutiny.
 
The House passed the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 -- which was adopted by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday -- with 165 members in its favour and seven against it in a division amidst broad support from the Congress and other opposition parties despite their reservations over its constitutional validity and the timing in view of the approaching elections.
 
Earlier, the House rejected an amendment moved by DMK member Kanimozhi and CPI(M)'s T.K. Rangarajan for referring the bill to a select committee for indepth scrutiny, with 155 voting against it and 18 for in a House of 244. Several other opposition amendments were also negatived. A constitutional amendment needs a special majority of more than half of the House present and two-thirds of those present voting in favour of it.
 
The AIADMK, which is friendly with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), staged a walkout opposing the Bill with its member A. Navaneethakrishnan saying it violated the basic structure of the Constitution. 
 
Rejecting the opposition criticism that the bill was brought late in the government's tenure with an eye on upper caste votes in the coming Lok Sabha elections, Social Justice Minister Thawarchand Gehlot said the measure had been brought with good intentions and was aimed at justice for the economically weaker sections.
 
He called the bill historic and allayed fears that the legislation would face legal hurdles, saying since it is a constitutional amendment even the Supreme Court would accept it, should there be any challenge.
 
The Minister told the Congress party that unlike the Narasimha Rao government which issued a government order to implement a similar quota, the Modi had taken precaution by bringing in a statute amendment.
 
Intervening in the over eight-hour debate, Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the proposed quota would not breach the Supreme Court's cap of 50 per cent on overall reservations.
 
He said the legislation would apply to both Central and state governments.
 
Senior Congress member and an eminent lawyer, Kapil Sibal, said the bill had been brought with "complete non-application of mind" and raised questions over the constitutionality of the bill and its implementation.
 
"If the bill is passed, the implementation of the reservation due to complexities involved and absence of required data with the government would be like demonetisation." 
 
Calling it a "jumla" (gimmick), Sibal said: "Kamal ka hamla, aur ek jumla (attack of lotus, one more gimmick)."
 
"What was the hurry? The bill could have been sent to the Select Committee. There would have been discussions and suggestions before it was introduced (in Parliament)," he said.
 
Earlier, his party colleague and deputy leader in the House, Anand Sharma, welcomed the 10 per cent quota for the upper caste poor but questioned its timing as it comes ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
 
"We are not opposing it. But the question is why it is being brought all of a sudden. It is the last session (of Parliament)...then there are elections," he said.
 
He asked why the BJP did not bring the bill in its four-and-half years of rule and emphasised that the decision came after the saffron party lost five states in the recently-concluded Assembly elections.
 
Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Derek O'Brien accused the government of committing a "fraud with the poor and youth" on jobs and "spitting on the Constitution" by moving bills for passage without proper legislative scrutiny.
 
Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said that since the government had now breached the 50 per cent ceiling on reservations, it should give OBCs the benefit of quota in accordance with their population at 54 per cent.
 
BSP member Satish Chandra Misra backed the bill and demanded that minorities also be given reservation.
 
BJP President Amit Shah, who was present during the entire debate, at one point intervened to accuse the opposition of trying to give quotas for Muslims at the cost of other communities.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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