New Delhi, Oct 24 (PTI) Left parties and activists Wednesday upped the ante against the Modi government over the Rafale deal with a leading lawyer alleging that the CBI Director Alok Verma was "removed" to thwart a probe by the agency into the procurement of the fighter jets.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy also slammed the government's decision to "remove" Verma in a "midnight coup".
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Wednesday dismissed as "rubbish" allegations by opposition parties, including the Congress, that Verma was removed because he wanted to look into the Rafale fighter jet deal.
During a 'Public Hearing on Rafale Scam' here jointly organised by seven Left parties, leaders said a nation-wide agitation would be launched to take the message home to people to "demand accountability".
The government has been strongly rejecting all allegations levelled against it in connection with the Rafale deal.
During the hearing, the parties, including the CPI, the CPI(M) and the CPI(ML) also reiterated the demand for convening a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on it.
Yechury alleged that the Rafale deal not only highlights the "corruption" involved in it but also "is a potential national security threat, as a way is being opened for private players to gain access to technical details about the nature of the aircraft to be built".
The NDA government claims that everything is transparent in this case, then why are they afraid of a JPC, he asked.
"There are people who have run away from the country after defaulting on crores of rupees. A person facing charges of corruption was appointed as CBI's special director. Then a midnight coup is done to remove the agency's director, and an officer investigating the charge was sent to Andaman & Nicobar Islands," he said.
Reddy also attacked the government over the Rafale deal and recalled that the BJP was one of the opposition parties that had fiercely demanded a JPC into the Bofors scam that had rocked the Congress government.
Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan alleged that price of the aircraft was "ramped up" and the deal amounted to a "clear cut case of corruption" involving the government.
Bhushan also alluded to the meeting he and veteran politicians Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie had with Verma on October 4 to submit a complaint in connection with the "scam".
"We had met the CBI director and submitted several documents, and the government had not quite liked him doing that. And, so he was removed, perhaps, because he wanted to investigate the Rafale deal allegations," the lawyer-activist alleged.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Wednesday said the government's decision to remove feuding CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana was based on the CVC's recommendations, while asserting that it was absolutely essential to restore the agency's institutional integrity and credibility.
CPI's Reddy also said that the Left parties have been fighting and "we want to get the truth from the government".
"The PM is silent on the M J Akbar issue, he's silent on the CBI mess and the coup d'état last night to remove CBI Director Alok Verma. So many blunders this NDA government has committed, and Rafale scam is the biggest blunder," he alleged. PTI KND IJT