Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday directly attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the sudden removal of CBI director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana in a dramatic midnight move and claimed it was done to protect the BJP-led government in the Rafale deal.
Speaking to reporters during a press conference in New Delhi, Rahul Gandhi said the government panicked and removed CBI director as he was to investigate Rafale jet deal.
"Appointment and removal of CBI director is done by a committee of 3 people PM, CJI and Leader of Opposition. But at 2 am in the night, the CBI director was removed. This is an insult to the constitution, insult to CJI, insult to people of India and is illegal and criminal," Rahul Gandhi said.
"The prime minister was scared that once a CBI investigation into the case starts, he would be finished. In this sense, the PM’s reaction was in panic," he went on to add.
Alok Verma, Rakesh Asthana remain CBI's top officers
Earlier in the day, the CBI said Alok Verma, who has been divested of his powers, will remain its Director and the agency's number two Rakesh Asthana will continue as the Special Director, while M Nageshwar Rao has been given interim charge of the agency.
To bring the perspective of the Central Vigilance Commission order recommending the divesting of powers of Verma and Asthana, Joint Director M Nageshwar Rao has been given the charge to look after the duties and functions of the Director as an interim arrangement, a CBI spokesperson said.
"Alok Verma continues to remain the Director of the CBI, Rakesh Asthana remains as Special Director and M Nageshwar Rao is looking after duties and functions of the Director in the interim period till the time CVC looks into allegations and counter allegations," the spokesperson told reporters.
The CBI spokesperson's response came after he was asked about the present status of Verma and Asthana in the CBI.
He described as "false" news report that appeared in a section of media suggesting that seven files were removed.
It is "false news. This is being manufactured by vested interest. Every file in CBI at each level is accounted for. These news stories appearing in the media will have an adverse impact on the credibility of the agency. The CBI is fighting cases internationally. Credibility shouldn't suffer," the spokesperson said.
In an unprecedented shake-up in the CBI's 55-year-history, both Verma and his deputy, Special Director Rakesh Asthana, were divested of their powers and sent on leave in a dramatic overnight action by the government Tuesday night.
Verma knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court Wednesday, challenging the government's decision. The apex court agreed to hear his plea on Friday.
WATCH: Congress turns CBI feud into political war