Rahul Gandhi on Friday led a protest march this afternoon to the office of the Central Bureau of Investigation in New Delhi, throwing the security apparatus in the city into a tizzy. For the first time, the new CBI office had to shut its gates to prevent vandalism. Hundreds were stuck in the traffic bottlenecks the Congress rally created. The elite Special Protection Group (SPG) officers prayed that Gandhi is not harmed in the mêlée he had created.
This optics is but aimed at fooling the people. Here is why.

Why protest after Supreme Court has intervened?

Why did Rahul Gandhi have to go ahead with his proposed march even after the Supreme Court intervened? Not only has the highest court directed the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to complete the inquiry against Alok Verma in 14 days, but the investigation is to be monitored by a former SC judge Justice Patnaik - lest anyone should question the credibility of the CVC.

Also read — CBI vs CBI: What Alok Verma said in his petition before Supreme Court

Not just that, the hands of the interim CBI director have been tied as CJI Ranjan Gogoi said, "Interim CBI director M Nageshwar Rao will not take any policy decisions. Only routine administrative work to keep work going." So, what was the necessity for Rahul Gandhi to take out that march if not to flaunt a show of strength? Doesn't it mean he has no faith in the wisdom of the highest court of the country?

Congress had supported Alok Verma in 2017

Gandhi wants us to believe that he is trying to save democracy by objecting to the removal of Alok Verma. But it's the same Congress under his leadership that had objected his appointment as the director last year!

In January 2017, Congress's Mallikarjun Kharge gave a three-page dissent note objecting to Verma's appointment in the parliamentary committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition that must approve of the appointment of a CBI director. Then sceptical of Verma, Kharge noted, "It is incumbent on this committee that the candidate who outranks other candidates on the parameters of experience in the field of anti-corruption and integrity must be accorded highest preference."

Also read — CBI vs CBI: Rahul Gandhi to protest, claims Verma’s removal a ploy to cover up Rafale scam

Kharge vehemently pushed the candidacy of RK Dutta for the post by comparing this contender with Verma. In his note, the Congress leader said Dutta's 208 months of experience stood him in better stead than Verma's 18 months.

Kharge didn't object on his personal capacity but as a representative of the largest opposition party, which was the Congress. the objection in 2017 clearly bore the stamp of party president Gandhi. But today, Gandhi didn't take a minute to take out a march against a forced leave of the same 'inexperienced' Verma.

Now Gandhi lauds the same Verma and finds a tenuous Rafale connection in the CBI director's removal. Kharge, again with Gandhi's approval, sends a four-page letter to Prime Minister Modi — this time objecting the decision to send Verma on a forced leave.


Why selective protest?

Even if one were to believe Rahul Gandhi is fighting some wrong, why not fight for the unceremonious removal of Rakesh Asthana as well? The CBI No 1 and No 2 feud was brewing in for quite some time. It reached a climax when the two began washing dirty linen in full public view, and CBI had to raid its own headquarters.
The government intervened to send the warring CBI heads on forced leave, bringing in Rao as the interim chief. It was obviously done to save the credibility of India's premier investigating agency that cannot be compromised at the altar of a clash of egos of two of its top officers.

Gandhi's Friday march may have created a buzz on news television, but it was an exercise of taking the people of this country for a ride. When the Chief Justice of India is seized off the matter, Gandhi's "save democracy" march becomes a farce enacted keeping the 2019 general election in mind.

Gandhi will do well to recall he had endorsed Justice Ranjan Gogoi's sense of discretion in January when the latter was among the four senior judges of the Supreme Court who did not like the way the then CJI Dipak Misra was handling the roster.