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After Alok Verma, Asthana eased out

Major churn in Central Bureau of Investigation

After Alok Verma, Asthana eased out

NEW DELHI: Rakesh Asthana, number 2 to former CBI chief Alok Verma, has been moved out of the premier investigating agency just a week after his boss. The unprecedented public rivalry between the two men, involving tit-for-tat corruption allegations, has pushed the country's premier investigating agency into a massive controversy over the last months.

Several other members of Verma's team have also been moved out. Sources said the churn is meant to clear the decks for the appointment of a new chief. A special panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet on January 24 to pick Verma's successor.

Asthana, who is facing a bribery case, and Alok Verma were sent on forced leave in October as the infighting within the agency escalated. The tension between the two officers had flared up after Verma's team filed a police case against Asthana, accusing him of taking a bribe from a businessman on the agency's radar.

In letters to the government, Asthana alleged that it was his boss who took bribes.

Retaliating against the police case, Asthana took the CBI to court and requested that the case against him be cancelled. The Delhi High Court has rejected his appeal.

Verma's controversial removal from the top post last week has created a political storm. The decision of the special panel led by PM Modi was based on a report by the anti-corruption watchdog Central Vigilance Commission on the allegations against the officer.

Verma claimed he was transferred on the basis of "false, unsubstantiated and frivolous allegations made by only one person, who was inimical to him". The officer, who was retiring by the end of this month, quit a day later, refusing to take charge as the Chief of Fire Services.

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