Rahul Gandhi leads Congress protest, says removing CBI chief won’t help PM

Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav, CPI leader D Raja and TMC's Nadimul Haque joined the protest. The Congress' protests in the national capital were replicated in other parts of the country

New Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi Friday courted arrest after staging a protest outside the CBI headquarters here against the move to divest CBI Director Alok Verma of his powers and send him on leave.

Earlier addressing the gathering Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue.

He also accused him of destroying institutions including the CBI, the Election Commission and the Enforcement Directorate.

Senior Congress leaders, including Ashok Gehlot, Ahmed Patel, Motilal Vora, Veerappa Moily and Anand Sharma, took part in the march that culminated in a demonstration ahead of the CBI headquarters.

Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav, CPI leader D Raja and TMC’s Nadimul Haque joined the protest. The Congress’ protests in the national capital were replicated in other parts of the country.

State Congress leaders led demonstrations in their regions against what the Congress described as the “illegal, unconstitutional and illegitimate removal of the CBI director by the Modi-Shah duo”.

Congress workers staged a protest in front of the CBI office in Bangaluru following the party’s call for a nationwide agitation against the Centre’s action to divest CBI Director Alok Verma of his powers and send him on leave.

However, MLAs and corporators did not take part in the protest in the city through the party high command had directed legislators to participate in the agitation.

The only prominent face was the party’s national general secretary and Karnataka in-charge KC Venugopal. Karnataka is ruled by the Congress-JD(S) coalition.

Defending the absence of senior party functionaries, Congress spokesperson Subhash Agarwal said the agitation was only symbolic and hence, the presence of MLAs and corporators did not matter much.

Meanwhile, former chief minister Siddaramaiah Friday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for turmoil in the CBI, alleging it was another manifestation of his “autocratic” rule.

Running a sarcastic hashtag campaign “Modi Se CBI Bachao,” Siddaramaiah tweeted, “The recent events related (to) #CBI is just another manifestation of @narendramodi’s autocratic rule. @BJP4India feels that they are entitled to destroy the democratic pillars. Ppl (People) are just clueless about the lawlessness & have lost faith & confidence in the system. #ModiSeCBIBachao.”

Hundreds of Congress activists and leaders staged a demonstration outside CBI office in Bhuvaneshwar also, as part of the party’s nationwide protest against the decision of the Centre to send the probe agency’s director, Alok Verma, on leave.

The demonstrators, led by Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Niranjan Patnaik, raised slogans against the Centre, alleging that Verma was sent on leave to stall investigation into charges of “corruption” in Rafale jet deal.

The Congress activists, sporting black T-shirts, attempted to enter into the CBI office here but were stopped by the security personnel at the gate.

Terming the action against Verma as “illegal, unconstitutional and intentional”, Patnaik alleged that people of Odisha, particularly the victims of a multi-crore chit fund scam, have been cheated by Asthana, who was monitoring the CBI probe into the case.

Over the past two years, there had been no progress into the chit fund scam probe in Odisha, he said.

“The investigation into the scam has been slowed down to shield ruling BJD members, with support from the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre,” he added.

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