New Delhi, Oct 25: The row in the CBI involving the 1984 batch IPS officer Rakesh Asthana and the outgoing CBI chief Alok Verma should not surprise many in the political circle as they know the high profile political connections of the Gujarat cadre cop - Asthana - who made news previously during his appointment also.
However, a section of BJP leaders say while there is a trend in the media and social network to believe that Mr Asthana in only on faultline just because of his Gujarat connection, party insiders say the government was displeased with CBI chief Alok Verma, a former Delhi Police Commissioner, for meeting the likes of known government critics Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha.
"Alok Verma doodh ke dhuley nahi hae (Verma is no sacred cow)....why he had to meet complainants in his chamber and outside as the norm is complaint is submitted at the CBI reception," a source said adding "Verma's flamboyant style of functioning is too well known".
"Verma also often bypassed laws and procedures and as Director General for Tihar prisons and had allowed airing of the controversial BBC Documentary 'India's Daughter', which included interview from December 16 (2012) Delhi gangrape accused Mukesh," the source said.
The Home Minister Rajnath Singh was in fact left red-faced over the episode.
BJP sources say now ironically at the high level meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Justice of India JS Khehar had approved the appointment of Mr Verma as CBI top cop and the Congress floor leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjin Kharge had given his "dissent note".
The Congress leader's modest pretext on January 20, 2017 was that Mr Verma did not have experience of working in the probe agency earlier and instead had urged the government to reconsider the case of another shortlisted officer Rupak Kumar Dutta, who was Special Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Reportedly, even Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had favoured Mr Dutta, who was later new Karnataka DGP.
BJP leaders pointed out that during the day amid fast-paced developments, the CVC also made it clear that Verma declined to cooperate with the supervising body under the provisions of Section 8 of the CVC Act, 2003) of superintendence over the functioning of the DPSE (CBI), related to the investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
During the day, the government also issued a statement that - "Despite repeated assurances and reminders, the Director, CBI failed to furnish the records or files before the CVC".
With regard, Mr Asthana, BJP sources say the Supreme Court did not object to his appointment as Special Director. Sources further said last year the Attorney General K K Venugopal told the Supreme Court that the official had “outstanding career” and that handled 40 high profile cases including the AgustaWestland scam, coal scam case and the Moin Qureshi case and thus deserved to be a Special Director in the probe agency.
The government response came after eminent lawyer Prashant Bhushan had challenged the appointment. Asthana had come into media glare number of times in the past including for being part of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by a former CBI director RK Raghavan that probed the Godhra train carnage in 2002.
The SIT report among other things maintained that the allegation against the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi that he "issued" directives to police officers to "allow Hindus to vent their anger" had not been established. The SIT also virtually justified Modi's description of Godhra residents as people with "criminal tendencies" for putting the ill-fated compartment into flame.
However, sources confirmed that it is not only that Asthana was brought to the CBI by the Modi government, in 2017 - the SIT chief and former CBI chief Mr Raghavan, whose report came under attack, was also made India's High Commissioner to Cyprus. The ruling party, however, is not apologetic about it.
"In foreign policy terms, one can say Raghavan's appointment was political. But such appointments do happen. In 2015, another former cop and ex-Mumbai Police Commissioner Ahmed Javed was appointed Ambassador to Saudi Arabia," a BJP source said.UNI