The government is understood to be unhappy with CBI Director Alok Verma meeting former Union minister Arun Shourie and lawyer Prashant Bhushan who demanded a probe into the alleged corruption in the Rafale aircraft deal, with a senior government functionary saying it is “rare” for the agency chief to meet politicians.
Last week, Shourie and Bhushan had met the CBI Director, submitted documents and demanded a probe into alleged corruption in the Rafale aircraft deal and offset contract.
“This was perhaps for the first time that politicians have met the CBI Director in his office. Such a meeting is rare,” the functionary said, indicating that the government has not taken the meeting kindly.
Buttressing his point, the functionary claimed, in normal circumstances, when a politician seeks appointment with the CBI chief, he or she is advised to submit complaints or any other documents at the reception of the agency headquarters.
The functionary, without elaborating, also said some government officials have gone “rogue” and they have engaged in bitter fight among themselves and if such quarrel continues, the organisations concerned will suffer.
The CBI Director, who is scheduled to remain in office till January next year, is engaged in a bitter fight with Special Director of the agency Rakesh Asthana and both sides have been levelling allegation against each other in public, a trend which is unheard-of in the history of 77 years of the organisation.
In their meeting, Shourie, a vocal critic of the Modi government, and Bhushan, a former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader, had asked the CBI Director to take the government’s permission to initiate a probe in accordance with the law, alleging that the offset contract for Rafale aircraft was actually a commission to an Anil Ambani-led Reliance group subsidiary.
French company Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, had chosen Reliance Defence as its partner to fulfil offset obligations of the deal. Rejecting allegations of corruption, the government has been maintaining it did not have any role in selection of the offset partner by Dassault.