New CBI chief once transferred for inflammatory speech in Brahmapur
The Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Odisha unit has questioned Nageswara Rao’s appointment as New CBI chief, alleging that his “anti-minority bias” is no secret, citing a controversial speech he made 20 years ago as a young officer. Nageswara Rao was the vice chairman of Brahmapur Development Authority.
A 1986 batch officer of the Odisha cadre, Rao had reportedly made “communal comments and questioned the Constitution’s bias” in a public speech in Brahmapur in 1998, which led to public outrage, inquiries by revenue divisional commissioner (RDC) and deputy inspector general of police (DIG), and he was eventually posted out of Brahmapur in 1999.
CPI(M) Odisha state committee secretary Ali Kishor Patnaik alleged that Rao had “accused Islamists, Christians and Marxists as the main threat to human rights” in a speech at an event to mark the International Human Rights Day on December 10, 1998. He had made the same charge in a PIL back field in the Orissa High Court back then, he told ET over the phone.
Patnaik, who hails from Brahmapur and was the party secretary for Ganjam district then. The event led to Rao’s eventual transfer out of Brahmapur Development Authority where he was the vice chairman, said Patnaik who labelled the interim CBI director as “an ideological friend of BJP”.
His petition accused Rao of giving “inflammatory and communal speeches” that would fuel communal tension. “He (Rao) also did not hesitate to interpret the Constitution in his own way and accused the framers of the Constitution as ‘pro-minorities’,” it said.
According to his petition, which he shared with ET, the text of Rao’s controversial speech was published by the regional paper Anupam Bharat on December 13, 1998. The outrage that followed and Rao’s own refusal to retract the statements were also documented in the local press. “After his eventual transfer, although he was back in Brahmapur later, I didn’t pursue the case,” Patnaik said.
The CPI(M)’s protest had been followed with the party’s then general secretary the late Harkishan Singh Surjeet writing to the President about the matter, according to Patnaik.
-ET Bureau| October 26, 2018