The ugly and public spat between two of the senior-most officers of the Central Bureau of Investigation had become a matter of concern and embarrassment for the ruling BJP-led Government at the Centre. The Opposition had a golden opportunity to credibly question the Modi regime on the development, but then it had not anticipated Rahul Gandhi’s faux pas. Thanks to the Congress president’s characteristic self-goal, opposition parties have been reduced to raising the decibel level without material and flinging unsubstantiated allegations.
After the Government summarily despatched the two warring officers — the Director and the Joint Director — on leave, Rahul Gandhi confidently claimed that the Director had been sent home because he was going to order a probe into the Rafale deal. How did the Congress leader know in advance about what the then CBI director would decide? Did the Director inform Rahul Gandhi, directly or through a third party, that he would be investigating the Rafale issue? It is true that certain people nursing a pathological dislike for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and forever on the lookout for an opportunity to embarrass him and his regime, had approached the then Director and petitioned him on the matter. That was in early October, and the official manual holds that the CBI chief can take a month to decided on the petition. In a few days from now, the Director, now sent on leave, would have had to give a feedback to the parties that had demanded a probe.
Given this background, the Congress chief could have at best suspected the linkage of that Director’s removal from the post to the possibility of advising a probe. But Rahul Gandhi did not suspect such a link; he was certain of it. In other words, the Congress leader yet again indulged in kite-flying at best and malicious lies at worst, to take forward his political battle against the Prime Minister. Spokesperson after spokesperson of the Congress has appeared on television channels, but none has been able to provide evidence that their leader had, to justify the shocking claim. Meanwhile, the CBI has categorically said that no file for probe into the fighter aircraft deal exists.
Yet, even suspicion would have been a little problematic from the Congress’s perspective. The Director against whose ‘removal’ the party is objecting today, is the same person whose appointment had been opposed by the Congress not too long ago. In fact, the Congress leader had submitted a dissent note at a meeting that the Government had conveyed to chose a Director. Some people, who are today demonstrating such love for that Director, had even approached the court against the appointment, alleging the due procedure had not been followed in the appointment.
The Congress’s charge would have had teeth if the Union Government had acted unilaterally against the Director. But it has also sent the Joint Director on leave. Going by the position taken by opposition parties, the Joint Director had been foisted on the CBI by the Modi Government and was, thus, the ruling dispensation’s favourite of sorts. At least the Government has been even-handed, punishing both the officers equally. To that limited extent, the Government has shown sense. Neither of the officials has been sacked or suspended, but given the gravity of allegations that they have levelled against each other, these accusations needed to be investigated without either of the two accused parties being around to influence the process. In short, both these officers continue to hold the high positions they did, but because they have been asked to proceed on leave, a senior person has been appointed to handle the day-to-day affairs of the country’s premier investigation agency.
The matter does not end here, nor will it this soon. Possibly, we shall see a lengthy legal battle by the affected parties, as well as by those who have taken offence at the developments. Meanwhile, it is imperative that the CBI’s reputation and image is protected at all costs, both by the Government and the Opposition.