New Delhi: M Nageshwar Rao was named the interim chief of CBI by the Prime Minister-led Appointments Committee of the Cabinet on late Tuesday night. His appointment comes at a time when the top three in the hierarchy of the premier investigative agency of the country have been sent on leave.
Rao, who till recently was the Joint Director, has been handed charge of all sensitive cases including those related to Vijay Mallya and AgustaWestland. His biggest challenge though could well be calming flayed nerves within CBI where a bitter in-fighting has erupted between No. 1 Alok Verma and No. 2 Rakesh Asthana. An Indian Police Services (IPS) officer of the 1986 batch of Odisha cadre though, Rao may well have the experience and skill to navigate through the crisis that the CBI currently finds itself in.
Rao has been known for being a tough taskmaster and has served as Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) in Odisha in the last 1980s. He is credited as the first officer to have used DNA fingerprinting in criminal investigation in the country - back in 1996. He also served a term as the head of Odisha Fire Service and his role work in rescue and relief efforts during Cyclone Phailin in 2013 and during Cyclone Hudhud in 2014 were widely appreciated.
Hailing from Telangana's Warangal district, Rao has a post-graduate degree in chemistry from the Osmania University. He was associated with IIT Madras before switching to civil services.
While his most-recent appointment has come at a time when there is a raging battle within CBI, not everyone is looking at Rao with hopeful eyes. DMK chief MK Stalin was quick to raise an objection to Rao's appointment and has said that there have been numerous complaints against him. He even claimed that Verma had wanted to initiate investigations against Rao.
Several complaints were sent to CBI director against Nageshwar Rao and there are reports that the CBI director Alok Verma wanted to initiate investigations into allegations against him: DMK Chief MK Stalin on Nageshwar Rao appointed as CBI interim director. (File pic) pic.twitter.com/K4oe8IoPw4
— ANI (@ANI) October 24, 2018
For now though, the focus is likely to remain more on the Verma vs Asthana battle with the former moving Supreme Court challenging the decision to send him on leave.