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Government faces ire from opposition over removal of CBI director

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Congress spokesperson RS Surjewala said Modi has sought to achieve surreptitiously and clandestinely what he cannot do directly by sacking the CBI director.

 

New Delhi, Oct 24 (PTI) Opposition parties on Wednesday slammed the government for CBI Director Alok Verma’s removal amid an escalating feud between him and his deputy Rakesh Asthana, with the Congress dubbing it the “last nail” in the agency’s independence and the CPI(M) calling it illegal.

Adding its voice to the debate, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) asked the reasons for sending the CBI director on leave.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala wondered if Verma was “sacked” for his keenness to probe the “layers of corruption” in the Rafale scam and sought an answer from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Modi govt buries the ‘last nail’ into the independence of CBI. Systematic dismantling & denigrating of CBI is now complete. Once a premier investigating agency, PM ensures that CBI’s integrity, credibility & reliability is buried & dead,” Surjewala said on Twitter.

There was no immediate comment either from the government or the ruling BJP on the allegations levelled by opposition parties.

“PM Modi has demonstrated the true colour of his infamous Modi Made Gujarat Model’ by this cloak-and-dagger mugging of CBI. Has the CBI Director been sacked for his keenness to probe the layers of corruption in Rafale Scam? Isn’t the rest a shoddy cover-up? Let PM answer!” the Congress leader said.

Attacking the prime minister, he said Modi has sought to achieve surreptitiously and clandestinely what he cannot do directly by sacking the CBI director.

Habitual and perpetual misuse of the CBI by the government and the BJP to “tamper fair investigation of serious criminal cases” is the reason for this unfathomable mess, Surjewala alleged.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury termed Verma’s removal “illegal”.

It has been done to protect the government’s handpicked officer against whom serious charges of corruption are being investigated, he said, alleging that it points to attempts at a serious cover-up to protect his direct links to the BJP’s top political leadership.

“To ensure that the CBI is not a ‘caged parrot’, the Supreme Court had granted protection to its chief from govt’s whims and fancies by giving him a two-year tenure. What is Modi govt trying to hide by its panic move?” he asked.

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal echoed him.

“What are the reasons for sending CBI director on leave? Under which law did the Modi govt get the authority to initiate action against the chief of an investigating agency appointed as per the Lokpal Act? What is Modi govt trying to hide?” he said on Twitter.

The government has divested Verma and Asthana of all powers amid an ongoing spat between them, sources said, calling it the first such case in the history of the agency.

The prime minister-led Appointments Committee Tuesday night gave charge of the director to Joint Director M Nageshwara Rao with immediate effect, a government order said.

Politics

Court takes cognisance of defamation plea against Shashi Tharoor for remark against PM Modi

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New Delhi | A Delhi court on Friday took cognisance of a criminal defamation complaint filed against Congress leader Shashi Tharoor for his alleged “scorpion” remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal fixed December 22 for recording the statement of the complainant, Delhi BJP leader Rajeev Babbar. The complaint alleged that Tharoor, with “mala fide intention, made the statement which is not only abuse of the Hindu deity but also defamatory”.

In his complaint, Babbar said being a vice-president of the BJP’s Delhi unit, he was “identified as a worker/supporter of Narendra Modi and BJP” and that Tharoor’s statement hurt his religious sentiment.  The complaint termed the statement “intolerable abuse” and “absolute vilification” of the faith of the people.

Tharoor stoked a controversy last month while speaking at the Bangalore Literature Festival, claiming that an unnamed RSS leader had compared Modi to “a scorpion sitting on a Shivling”. The complaint has been filed under sections 499 and 500 of IPC relating to defamation. If convicted, Tharoor may face a maximum punishment of two years in jail.

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Uttar Pradesh: Thakur leader Raja Bhaiya launched new political party

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Lucknow | Six-time MLA and Thakur community Raghunath Pratap Singh on Friday announced the launch of his new political party called ‘Jan Satta Party’.

Addressing the media during the launch Singh said,”I have completed 25 years in politics, have been an Independent politician and MLA, so now have decided to form a political party.” He further added that he has approached Election Commision for registration.

Popularly known by the name Raja Bhaiya, Singh is currently an MLA from Kunda in Uttar Pradesh. He was a cabinet minister of Food and Civil Supplies Department during the Samajwadi Party government. He has also served as a minister in the cabinet of Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh’s government.

According to political pundits, the formation of a new political party by Raja Bhaiya is an attempt to influence the upper caste of voters in Uttar Pradesh which will indirectly help the BJP in the upcoming elections against the possible SP-BSP alliance. Earlier a close aide of the Samajwadi party, Raja Bhaiya in the last Rajya Sabha elections voted for the BJP candidate. He clearly stated that he won’t be voting in favour of the BSP candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls due to his differences with BSP supremo Mayawati.

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Afridi’s comments on Kashmir endorsed by Pakistan citizens: Shiv Sena

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Mumbai | The Shiv Sena Friday latched on to former Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi’s remarks that his country “does not want Kashmir” and said all sane Pakistanis would endorse the view.

The Sena, in an editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, said Pakistan’s government and military chief gave more impetus on trying to harm India than governing the country as a result of which it has to seek external financial aid even 70 years after Independence.

In a video that has gone viral, Afridi is heard saying, “I believe that Pakistan does not want Kashmir, and India too should not be given the state. Kashmir should be an independent country.” He went on add that “humanity” or “insaniyat” should be prioritised.

In a swipe at the affairs of his own country battling financial woes and sectarian strife, the Pakistani all-rounder added, “Pakistan can’t handle its four provinces”. Afridi, while speaking on the matter later, however, has blamed the Indian media for quoting him out of context. Making a U-turn, Afridi has now said that “Kashmir belongs to Pakistan”.

The Sena’s editorial Friday stated, “Pakistan has become so poor in trying to support terrorism and corruption that it now is left with only the option of selling cattle and vehicles from the Prime Minister’s residence.”  It claimed that Pakistan was on the verge of a financial breakdown and it had been relegated to begging for a bailout from countries like China, after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) turned down its aid request.

“If the country needs financial oxygen to keep its economy going, alive, how will it take care of Kashmir? Not just Afridi, every sane Pakistani will hold the same view. However, who asks the common man there?” the editorial questioned. “The government and the military chief there give more impetus on harming India than doing good for its people. Therefore, they have to beg for aid even 70 years after Independence,” it said.

The Sena further dubbed Afridi as “anti-Indian” and said he has, in the past, made derogatory statements against India. Citing examples, it said Afridi had shown a soft corner for 13 terrorists eliminated by Indian security forces, and has been repeatedly advocating Independence for Kashmir.

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