By Aditya Aamir
Morning, we found, it was a night of the long knives. But was it actually the night of the scorpion? It was raining allegations of corruption and the scorpion was in the house. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in danger of being Rafale stung and there was no antidote other tan to scramble the jets and do a purge of the blue-eyed and the red-eyed along with other eyes. One CBI officer called Bassi was told to take the bus to Port Blair, Kalapaani!
For no fault of his, let that be told, except that he was investigating Modi’s blue-eyed boy CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who was at war with CBI Director Alok Verma. Overnight the two warring warlords were pulled out of their beds and called to “report” only to be told to go home on leave!
A lot of bleary-eyed were working the wee hours including the Chief Vigilance Commissioner and the National Security Advisor while Prime Minister Modi slept the sleep of the baby, secure he would wake up to a new morning. This, even as ousted CBI Director Alok Verma could not wait for the morning to break to knock on the doors of supreme justice, he was so angry at being given notice to leave.
Deprived of his plum post, Verma’s pain in the…, CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana couldn’t have cared less. He probably overslept and took his time over coffee. Though relieved of his post, he must have been relieved he was safely off the hook and a post-Monday arrest which looked like a fait accompli was no longer a dread. The Delhi High Court had given him time till Monday to work things out, no more.
‘Step aside’ is a mild way to scream, machete in hand, ‘get the hell out of the way’ and that was the purpose of Tuesday night’s roll-call. NSA Ajit Doval’s ‘Cold Start Doctrine’ is not just to deal with Pakistan’s tactical nuclear option but also unconventional warfare against domestic threats to the Modi-regime late in the night; 2 am to be precise, according to the clock (not cloak) and dagger rules of ‘The Doval’.
Modi and Doval, said Man of Every Hour Arun Jaitley, were playing fair and square. CBI No.1 Alok Verma and CBI No.2 Rakesh Asthana had turned the CBI headquarters into a madhouse and the fair name of India’s premier investigating agency was being sullied “internationally”, time to step in to the rescue of the damsel in distress! The “institutional integrity” of the CBI was at stake and had to be protected come what may.
Morning Alok Verma got up from bed and dressed for the Supreme Court. Having been sent on leave three months short of end of his constitutionally-guaranteed tenure, it was not the kind of retirement he was looking forward to. Overnight there was nobody to question deputy superintendent of police Devinder Kumar in CBI custody, who allegedly cooked up a false yarn to nail Verma in a corruption case.
Asthana was also escaping justice like the eel he was and personal honour was at stake. The apex court has set Friday to hear Verma’s plea and the feeling in many quarters is Verma can’t wait for Friday to come, he is so cut-up with the 2 am subterfuge.
So, what happens to Asthana, charged with taking a Rs 2-3-4 crore bribe from a meat-exporter via a Dubai non-resident Indian conduit, is he off the meat-hook? Apparently, a new Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been set up to deal with Asthana and, to be sure, being one among the many SIT, this one too will sit out to rot in peace.
Meanwhile, the headcount was ’13 CBI’ and that included the three who were till the other day sharpening nails to pin Rakesh Asthana to PM Modi’s hide. Modi’s “blue-eyed boy” was heading a SIT probing a number of cases of high-profile corruption cases including Agusta Westland and Aircel-Maxis. Vijay Mallya was also allegedly overstaying in London courtesy Asthana and Nirad and Mehul Choksi were diamonds he was taking time to string into a necklace to hang them both with.
But it’s not Choksi diamonds and Kingfisher beer the opposition is strung about. The Congress particularly is pointing to the scorpion going by the name of Rafale which was in Modi’s house and poised to sting him. Congress president Rahul Gandhi took time off to tell people of the Rafale-HAL story unfolding with the CBI disintegrating.
Overnight the pink façade of the CBI headquarters in Delhi had turned to blood red, the massacre in the madhouse leaving many in doubt if Prime Minister Narendra Modi while trying to give the impression he had no skin in the game wasn’t trying to save his Rafale-stained skin. Was it real life drama of one Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? Modi playing Jack Nicholson! (IPA Service)