Connect with us


CBI internal struggle: Should the premier investigative agency be disbanded?

Arti Ghargi




What is extremely unfortunate about the CBI vs CBI fight is that it has smothered the imagery of the institution.


A premier investigating agency of world’s largest democracy entangled with an ugly, out-in-public fight between the two topmost officials, both trying to discredit each other while the leadership looks over- seems like a perfect flimsy story. The fact is, it is happening right now in India’s leading investigative agency Central Bureau of the investigation. The public fallout between the No.1 of CBI i.e. CBI director Alok Verma and No.2 i.e. Special Director Rakesh Asthana has now reached to a point where the agency seems to be having an unprecedented face-off. The infight which was boiling for over a year has reached its zenith with the CBI going ahead and filing an FIR against its Special Director Rakesh Asthana.

The CBI has filed a bribery case against its second in command, Special Director Rakesh Asthana. Incidentally, Asthana had levelled same allegations of bribery against Verma two months ago in a letter written to the cabinet secretary. The CBI registered the case against Asthana — FIR RC 13(A) of 2018 —on October 15 after receiving a complaint from Satish Sana who is being investigated in the meat exporter Moin Qureshi case. Satish Sana had alleged that Asthana had promised to help him get a clean chit in exchange of ₹5 crores as bribery with ₹3 crores as an advance.

The internal power struggle in the CBI has now appeared on the political radar with Congress President Rahul Gandhi accusing the Prime Minister Modi of making the agency a “weapon of political vendetta”. He tweeted saying that the premier investigation agency was on a terminal decline and “at war with itself”. “The PM’s blue-eyed boy, Gujarat cadre officer, of Godra SIT fame, infiltrated as No. 2 into the CBI, has now been caught taking bribes,” he added.

Meanwhile, Rakesh Asthana who is at the centre of the entire controversy has said that there is a conspiracy being concocted to malign him.

Who is Rakesh Asthana?

Rakesh Asthana, the Special Director of the CBI whom Rahul Gandhi described as PM Modi’s “Blue-eyed boy” is a 1984-batch Gujarat cadre IPS. He took over as the special director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on October 22, 2017, after a brief stint as the additional director in CBI earlier.

His appointment to the CBI created a lot of storms. Apparently, Asthana had probed the burning of the Sabarmati Express in Godhra. He even presided over the arrest of former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad Yadav in the fodder scam in 1997 as a Superintendent of Police in CBI. Asthana is also said to be close to PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. Thus, his appointment to the CBI raised many eyebrows.


Image Source: Web

In 2016, he was even made director for a few months. However, after the opposition took a strong objection, the government had to set up a fresh panel of senior officials. Asthana’s name eventually had to be withdrawn as even the leader of the opposition is on a selection panel of the CBI Director. Furthermore, Alok Verma got selected for the top job.

The troubles for Asthana started appearing when his name emerged in the ‘2011 diary’ scandal which was recovered in the Sandesara Group IT raids. The group owns Sterling Biotech. There are BBM messages and entries made on Asthana’s name.

Alok Verma vs Rakesh Asthana:

The first dispute between the two top CBI officers sparked a year ago when Rakesh Asthana (then Additional Director) was being considered for the promotion i.e. the post of special director. Alok Verma had strongly opposed his elevation citing appearance of Asthana’s name in Sandesara group’s diary scandal.

As Mr Pranab Dhal Saman points out in his article in the Print, Asthana created a Special Investigation Team under him during his brief stint as the director of the agency, for a unique set of quick delivery cases. “The cases included the Vijay Mallya probe, Agusta probe, corruption case against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and the politically sensitive Rajasthan ambulance scam case, among others,” Samanta says.


Image Source: Web

Now, even though he was dropped as the Director of CBI, these SIT’s still remained with him. The cases undertaken by these SITs are all politically sensitive cases. The Verma faction, however, took an edge when they moved on Lalu Prasad, apparently without his knowledge, in the railway’s hotel sale case in July. This is the same event which led to breaking of the Mahagathbandhan of Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar in Bihar.

The time is crucial now as in 2019, Alok Verma will complete his term as the director of CBI. According to the hierarchy, Asthana is expected to take over the top post which is just before the 2019 general elections.

Sources in the PM’s office say the CBI has not sought permission to act against its officer, Mr Asthana, as is required in such cases.

What is the conclusion?

The infighting within the various government agencies are not new affairs, what is extremely unfortunate about the CBI vs CBI fight is, it has smothered the imagery of the institution. The credibility of the CBI as “independent” investigative agency has been compromised. The current altercation in the CBI though seems to be the internal politics, in a broader sense, it is also somewhere connected to the political dots.


Image Source: Web

The CBI has often been accused of being a toy at the hands of political parties at the power. It has long been accused of being a tool of intimidating the political opponent. This trend of managing the “CBI” started with the UPA era. Although, the “management” was done in an unobtrusive and hush-hush way. Under the current dispensation, using CBI for political consideration has become more open and brazen. This has eroded the trustworthiness of CBI.

In the light of the recent incident, it must be pondered upon whether urgent reforms are needed in the premier institute of investigation or with the deep political infiltration, should it be disbanded completely?


Is Modi government playing with fire with the Savarna Reservation?

Arti Ghargi



We have seen a number of examples in the past where political leaders tried to meddle with the reservation policies which resulted in nothing but the electoral disaster.


On Monday, the Modi cabinet raised the heat amidst the ongoing winter session of parliament by clearing 10% reservation for the economically weaker upper castes. The cabinet decided to amend the Constitution so that the “economically backward” upper castes will get 10% reservation in direct recruitment in government services and admission to higher educational institutions.

The proposed reservation will be over and above the existing 50 per cent reservation enjoyed by the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes, taking the total reservation to 60 per cent. Among the major castes to benefit from the proposed law are Brahmins, Rajputs (Thakurs), Jats, Marathas, Bhumihars, several trading castes, Kapus and Kammas among other Upper Castes.

As the news took over the TV screens and print columns, it was projected as a “Master Stroke” by the Modi government. Some even called it a “Surgical Strike” ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Considering the Savarna backlash that the government received over the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (amendment) act, this might have been a last-ditch attempt by the ruling BJP to save its Upper Caste voters. Incidentally, the upper caste Hindus are its core vote banks. Thus, this move was being seen as vote bank motivated.

The question, however, remains whether it is actually effective or ground? Whether it will pay the electoral dividends the party is hoping for? Will the move achieve consolidation of both, Dalit and Savarna voters in favour of BJP?

BJP may hope the answer is in affirmative. But a quick scanning of pages of India’s political history can easily tell that it is otherwise. On the contrary, we have seen a number of examples in the past where political leaders tried to meddle with the reservation policies which resulted in nothing but the electoral disaster in the immediate elections.

Karpoori Thakur:

Karpoori Thakur was the first political leader to have felt the heat on the ballot box due to his decisions regarding the reservation policies. The socialist leader who was Bihar’s first non-Congress Chief minister first introduced the reservation for the economically backward upper castes in the country. His decision was based on the findings of the Mungeri Lal Commission. This commission had suggested a total 26% reservation in the state, of which 20% were for the OBC, 3% for the women of any background and 3% reservation for the poor Savarnas.

Karpoori Thakur decided to implement the reservation formula in Bihar in November 1978. However, he decided to divide the OBC category into two other sub-categories for the distribution of quotas, i.e. Extreme Backward Class (EBC) and Backward Class (BC). While EBC were allotted 12% quota, BC was allotted 8%.

Electorally, it proved to be disastrous for the leader. He had to endure major upper caste backlash for this move. Within a week, he had to vacate the CM chair. The reservation policy he introduced is popularly known as “Karpoori Thakur Formula”. The policy was halted in 1992-93 until the Supreme Court quashed it. However, with the Modi government’s new reservation card, the demand for implementing the formula in government jobs and educational opportunities has started gaining pace in Bihar.


Image Source: Web

VP Singh:

Who can forget the political debacle VP Singh brought upon himself by announcing the implementation of Mandal commission report. Not only the country burned for months following violent protests but the controversial move proved to be a fatal blow to VP Singh’s political career.

In August 1990, seven years after the Mandal Commission report on the identification of OBC’s based on 11 parameters, VP Singh in his independence day address declared his intention of implementing the commission’s suggestions. The report proposed OBCs to be given 27% reservation making the total number of reservation go up to 49%.

This move sparked a series of student protest. The Self-immolation committed by more than 50 students across the country and suicide attempts by more than 100 people marked the end of the VP Singh’s minority government. Just 11 months after he took oath as the Prime Minister, VP Singh had to step down and was succeeded by Chandra Shekhar.


Image Source: Web

Bhupinder Huda:

Having witnessed the fire sparked by the controversial reservation policies, Congress (UPA) for most of its term kept the reservation off its priority. Until 2014, when it made a last-ditch attempt to win the election, touched the reservation issue.

On the face of elections, Congress proposed to include Jats in Other Backward Class category. The Jat reservation only resulted in violent protests and hartals in the state. The Supreme Court eventually rejected it. The Congress, as we know, was reduced to only 1 seat.

Image Source: Web

Prithviraj Chavan:

The Congress-NCP coalition government in the state of Maharashtra too followed the suite off Haryana government. The Prithviraj Chavan-led coalition government announced 16% reservation for the Marathas who have been demanding reservation since long. The move did not prove much fruitful as the coalition had to face dismal numbers in the immediate assembly election.

Image Source: Web

These and many other cases in the past prove that any decision with regards to the reservation is equal to playing with fire. Thus, it begs a question whether the Modi government has learnt the time and again tested lesson provided by Indian Politics. With the recent decision, it seems it hasn’t or perhaps, it has chosen to ignore it.

Will it turn out to be political suicide for Modi government as well? Or will he be successful in breaking the jinx?

Continue Reading


Don’t need Congress, SP-BSP strong enough to defeat BJP in UP: Kiranmoy Nanda





Kolkata | Samajwadi Party (SP) national vice-president Kiranmoy Nanda on Sunday said his party, together with the BSP, is strong enough to defeat the BJP in Uttar Pradesh in the upcoming general election and there is no need of an “insignificant” force like the Congress to make it happen.

He, however, hinted that the SP-BSP alliance might just leave aside the Rae Bareli and Amethi constituencies, represented in the Lok Sabha by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi respectively.

“In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is an insignificant force, so we are not even thinking of including or excluding it. The SP-BSP alliance is the main force which will take on the BJP. The Congress might be there in one or two seats, it is for the Congress to decide what position it wishes to see itself in,” Nanda told PTI in an interview.

His comments came two days after Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and SP leader Akhilesh Yadav moved closer to finalise a seat-sharing formula, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. Both the leaders held a meeting in New Delhi on Friday.

Nanda felt the Congress was yet to adjust to the mantra of “alliance politics” as it was unwilling to “leave even an inch to its allies in states where it is strong, but expects others to share their pound of flesh with it in states where it is a weak force”.

Asked whether keeping the Congress out of the alliance in Uttar Pradesh would be an advantage for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he said, “From our past experiences, we can say, in cases where the Congress had fielded candidates against the SP-BSP alliance, we did not face any problem in defeating the BJP. The Congress’s vote share is completely insignificant.

“Rather there have been instances where the Congress had not put up its candidate in a seat and the BJP got its vote share.”

Nanda cited the examples of the Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha bypolls, where the Congress had fielded candidates against the SP-BSP nominees, but that did not deter the alliance from defeating the BJP.

Referring to the recently-held Assembly polls in five states, he said had the Congress worked out an alliance in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the BJP would have faced a complete ouster in the two states.

“Did the Congress go for a pre-poll alliance with the SP-BSP in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan? The answer is no. The Congress’s policy is it will take benefits from everybody, but when it gets an opportunity, it does not want to share it with others,” Nanda said.

The former fisheries minister of West Bengal during the Left Front regime asserted that the SP-BSP alliance would be a “gamechanger” in the general election in Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats.

“Going by the current situation, it is clear that the SP-BSP alliance will sweep Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP will be ousted. The SP will play a vital role in the next government formation at the Centre, but we are not in the prime ministerial race,” he maintained.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP, along with its allies, had secured 73 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, whereas the SP had won five and the Congress just two seats.

Nanda also refuted the claims that Shivpal Singh Yadav’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) might play a spoilsport for the SP-BSP alliance in the Hindi heartland state.

“New parties crop up prior to the Lok Sabha polls in politically sensitive Uttar Pradesh, but they fail to create any impact,” he asserted.

Talking about the choice of prime ministerial candidate of the opposition alliance, Nanda said the matter would be decided on the basis of consensus after the polls.

“We are not averse to anyone for the prime minister’s post but that issue will be decided after the polls, following a discussion with all the parties,” he added.

Continue Reading


Is “Pliable” offensive because Rahul Gandhi said it?

Arti Ghargi




As the entire hullabaloo surrounding “Pliable” continues, a quick search on Google will tell you what the word means.


Many of our journalists on ever-buzzing Indian Twitter are outraging over the word “Pliable”. For those who are completely unaware of how this fairly innocuous-seeming word offended many of my colleagues, let me give you a brief background.

It was on Thursday that Congress President Rahul Gandhi during a press conference sought to take a swipe at Prime Minister Modi’s interview with ANI editor Smita Prakash as being “staged” and lampooning the interviewer as “Pliable”. His remarks were followed by a prompt rebuttal by the ANI chief calling it a “Cheap Shot” and “downright absurd”. “Not expected of a president of the oldest political party in the country,” she tweeted. Many journalists and even politicians (read BJP leaders) came out in her support and slammed Rahul Gandhi for his comments.

“The Grandson of the ‘Emergency dictator’ displays his real DNA – attacks and intimidates an independent Editor,” tweeted Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Adding a question on the silence of “pseudo-liberals” (Wait. The Irony just died). On the other hand, many others disagreed and saw nothing wrong with Rahul Gandhi’s comment. As the debate around “Pliable” heated, the IT cells of both parties aided their respective sides by releasing interview videos of Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi- which is supposed to be a commentary on how certain journalists suck up to the rival parties and what “Pliable” journalism looks like.

As the entire hullabaloo surrounding “Pliable” continues, a quick search on Google will tell you what the word means. According to Google, Pliable means easily bent; flexible or easily influenced. The Cambridge dictionary elaborates a little more- (often disapproving) A pliable person is easily influenced and controlled by other people. Now, going by the literal meaning of the word, it is hardly offensive. But as what’s offensive or what’s not is subjective, let us consider for a moment that it was indeed offensive to some. But the subjective cannot be selective.

Was it a standalone incident where politicians indulged in name calling? Hell No! Many journalists on regular basis are subjected to uncivilized criticism just for doing their job. The range of cuss words used to discredit journalists and their work is innumerable. Not to mention the few which you would see in very often which degrade the standard of public discourse. I am sure many of us have been called “Presstitute, Dalal, Baazaru” and what not. And while Mr Jaitley is busy pointing fingers at Rahul Gandhi. Here is how his own cabinet colleague described the journalists as:

 Not to forget the Modi interview to Smita Prakash in which he terms some journalists as “News Traders”.

Now, after the furore, Editors Guild and other journalistic bodies stepped in and condemned Rahul Gandhi for “words” used by him to criticise the ANI chief. Though it wasn’t a standalone case of politicians name-calling journalists, in this particular case the guild stepped in. The promptness is definitely noteworthy.

In the next few lines, the guild raises the question on the objectionable language used by senior BJP leaders and AAP leaders to criticise the journalists and media at large in the past. This condemnation in retrospect hardly seems genuine and comes across as an effort to escape the whataboutery. The guild says that journalists aren’t immune to the civil criticism. Going by this statement, Pliable is more civil than “Presstitute”, “Dalal” or “Baazaru”.

So what was the outrage for? Was it really because of the use of word Pliable? If it is so, why the Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy calling journalists “News Traders” doesn’t incite such response? Or was the outrage because it was Rahul Gandhi who said it. Which then means two things: either the fraternity thinks they do not merit criticism from Rahul Gandhi (or any politician, for that matter) or Rahul Gandhi is too civil in his conduct that we as journalists don’t expect him to use such words. The standard for judging Rahul Gandhi is higher than it is for his contemporaries.

In my opinion, politicians should be the last ones criticizing the journalists. But should they be barred from criticizing the media completely? Not at all. But if we are to condemn them for their comments the ground should be the same for every politician.

Continue Reading

Popular Stories

Copyright © 2018 Theo Connect Pvt. Ltd.