by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
Midnight coup in CBI,
PM sends Director, No. 2 packing finally,
Junior-most Nageshwar Rao made Director
Verma goes to court, Asthana sulks
New Delhi, Oct 24
It was a midnight coup at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) headquarters never witnessed before when the newly appointed director, M Nageshwar Rao landed there accompanied by a police convoy to take charge.
The 1986 Odisha cadre officer who hails from Telangana, headed the 11th floor office of Alok Verma to take charge. There was no one to give him the charge as all top bosses had been sent on forced leave by the government on the recommendations of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
When Verma and his number two Rakesh Asthana went to the CBI headquarters in the morning, they were stopped from entering. While Verma went to the Supreme Court to challenge his ouster, Rakesh Asthana went home sulking. The SC will hear the case on Friday.
The Cabinet Committee of Appointment (ACC) headed by the Prime Minister had issued the order at 11.45 pm yesterday asking Rao to take over the “duties and functions of CBI director with immediate effect.” The decision was taken by the PM at 11.30 pm and the file was sent by hand to the residence of Home Minister Rajnath Singh who is also a member of the ACC. Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the PMO, had asked Rao earlier to be ready to leave for an important assignment at a short notice. He had no clue what that assignment will be. But all hell broke within the next 30 minutes when the official order was put out making him the new director during the period of “subsistence.” Interestingly, there is no order till now on the website of the DoPT divesting Alok Verma of the charge of the CBI and sending him on leave. However, Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana were informed about their "compulsory leave" through official messengers.
In a bizarre move, the police personnel of the Delhi Police cordoned off the CBI building at 12.30 am and around 1.45 am, M Nageswar Rao came escorted by a police convoy to take charge. The stories that Rao sealed Verma's office are baseless as all the files are being scanned in the room. A new team of officers has been deputed to probe all pending cases. Nageshwar Rao removed Verma's most trusted officer Additional Director A K Sharma from all the cases. Manish Sinha who is Sharma's junior was also sent packing.
It now transpires that K V Chowdary, Chief Vigilance Commissioner, held a marathon meeting on Tuesday with his two colleagues; Sharad Kumar and M K Bhasin and sent their recommendation to the PM that both the top officers be sent on compulsory leave immediately.
Chowdary had been asked by the Prime Minister's Office last week to step after efforts to find a solution by NSA Ajit Doval and deputy Principal Secretary P K Mishra failed. It may be mentioned that Nageswar Rao had joined the CBI in 2016 as joint director before his stunning rise as its interim director.