Congress president Rahul Gandhi leads a protest outside the CBI headquarters in New Delhi
Congress president Rahul Gandhi along with senior leaders of other opposition parties today turned up outside the CBI headquarters in Delhi in a massive show of force against what they said was the government's attempt to interfere in the probe agency's functioning.
The government has sent the CBI chief Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana on forced leave after both accused each other of taking bribe from the same businessman.
Leaders from the Trinamool Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, CPI(M) and other parties marched from Dyal Singh College in central Delhi's Lodhi Road to the CBI headquarters, 4.2 km away. Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav, CPI's D Raja and TMC's Nadimul Haque joined the Congress protest.
Walking in the front, Rahul Gandhi led hundreds of people who shouted slogans and carried placards and posters that criticised the government. A man holding a white sheet of paper with "CBI" written on it was seen inside a cage, alluding to the CBI being a caged parrot.
Mr Gandhi has said the midnight removal of CBI chief Alok Verma was a "disgraceful and unconstitutional attempt" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to block an investigation into the Rafale fighter jet deal.
Hundreds of security personnel have been posted outside the CBI office on Lodhi Road as protesters streamed into the area.
"Why was M Nageswar Rao appointed as CBI director in a hurry? All parties should protest against this along with Congress party," AAP leader Sanjay Singh said. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the CBI has become "BBI", short for "BJP bureau of investigation".
In a letter to all Congress general secretaries, state unit chiefs and legislature party leaders, Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot asked them to hold protests against the BJP government outside all CBI offices across the country.
Setting the agenda for the march, Mr Gandhi on Thursday said Mr Verma being sent on administrative leave was to pre-empt an investigation into the Prime Minister's alleged role in the Rafale deal.