CBI vs CBI: Modi’s concern for an old loyalist Rakesh Asthana

Rakesh Asthana, having saved the skin of Modi and his coterie a number of times, is privy to many dirty secrets and is too precious to let down. This explains Modi’s concern for the CBI chief

CBI vs CBI: Modi’s concern for an old loyalist Rakesh Asthana

Faraz Ahmad

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a worried man today. One of his trusted lieutenants Rakesh Asthana the Special Director of the prime national investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigations is facing serious charges from the CBI itself of corruption and bribery from Beef exporter Moin Qureshi and other sources and the Prime Minister fears he and his Government being dragged into this controversy.

The CBI has filed a First Information Report (FIR) against its number two officer, Rakesh Asthana, raided its own office premises and arrested Deputy Superintendent of the CBI Devendra Kumar, directly reporting to Asthana on charges of falsification and forging of documents to save Asthana.

News reports suggest the Prime Minister summoned CBI Director Alok Verma and “discussed” the matter with the CBI Director further directing him to National Security Adviser Ajit Doval who too “briefed” Verma. Does anyone remember or the human memory is so short as to forget what happened to former Law and Justice Minister in the UPA Government Ashwani Kumar? He had summoned the then CBI Director Ranjit Sinha and discussed with him the CBI case relating to the Coal Block allocation which the court had directed the CBI to probe. “This issue should be investigated by the CBI under judicial supervision on allotments between 2006 and 2009,” said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar in March 2013 following the CAG draft report presuming a loss of ₹10.67 lakh crore for not auctioning the coal blocks.

The BJP led Opposition was up in arms along with the apex court and the CAG all rallied on the side of the Opposition to nail Manmohan Singh and Ashwani Kumar for having discussed the coal issue with Ranjit Sinha.

These charges against Asthana have been in public knowledge for long and communicated to the Government from time to time. But the Government has chosen to look the other side

Here there are not just serious charges of corruption and bribery against Rakesh Asthana and a presumption of “disproportionate assets” against him due to the extravagant expenditure at his daughter’s wedding but some serious investigations have been carried out by the CBI against its Special Director, due to head the agency when Alok Verma retires barely two months from now. These charges against Asthana have been in public knowledge for long and communicated to the Government from time to time. But the Government has chosen to look the other side. Why?

Instead Asthana has shot off a letter to the Union Cabinet Secretary, the topmost bureaucrat in the hierarchy, reporting directly to the Prime Minister, disputing charges and crying vendetta and accusing Verma of being corrupt too by charging that Verma let off Lalu Prasad lightly in a corruption case pertaining to the period when Lalu was the Union Railway minister in 2004-09.

Curiously when the Prime Minister brought in Asthana, a Gujarat cadre officer and sought to make him directly the Director of CBI in 2016 he brushed aside the same issues raised then. Since then the CBI under Alok Verma has worked meticulously recording evidence before magistrates and making a water tight case against Asthana for receiving bribe money to the tune of ₹3 crore through a network of Moin Qureshi to let out or water down cases against scamsters and defaulters like Chetan Sandesara. The FIR has woven a web of deceit and lies around Asthana. The Prime Minister however unmindful of that seems keen to save Asthana.

Asthana has a history of association with the Sangh parivar and of “doing good work” to perpetuate the BJP’s political agenda. His first big act was to make Lalu Prasad the main accused in the fodder scam in 1997 when the United Front Government supported by Lalu Prasad was in power in Delhi and to ensure that Lalu was sent to jail on the charge of having defalcated hundreds of crores of funds from the Government treasury in the fodder scam of Bihar. Soon thereafter he managed with BJP’s help to change his cadre to Gujarat a safe haven for the Sanghis since early 1990s

There he served Modi well first as the Surat Commissioner of Police sticking to the chief minister’s diktat when he allowed the raping and lynching mobs a free run of Muslim victims in post Godhra 2002 frenzy. In turn he was entrusted the investigation into the Godhra burning of train and he dismissing the first reports of the SDM which dismissed the thesis of train being burnt from outside, in turn upholding the Modi theory of Muslims of Signal Falia burning the S-6 coach. Eventually none of this held water in the court of law and after decades of languishing in jail each one of the accused was acquitted by the court.

So Modi having full faith in Asthana brought him to the CBI setting side all the objections regarding his alleged acts of corruption. Here he dismissed the earlier CBI investigation in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case and thus managed to get Modi’s boys off the hook

The crux of the matter though is that Asthana having saved the skin of Modi and his coterie any number of times is privy to too many dirty secrets and is too precious to be let down. That explains Modi’s anxiety in summoning the CBI chief and directing him to Ajit Doval.

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