Deposed Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat will appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday in connection with an alleged sting operation that showed him offering a deal to rebel Congress MLAs through middlemen. Mr. Rawat is scheduled to face a vote of confidence in the State Assembly on Tuesday.
The CBI, conducting a preliminary enquiry into the “sting", got the video tapes examined and found them to be “genuine." The operation was carried out by Umesh Kumar, the chief executive officer and editor-in-chief of the Noida-based TV channel Samachar Plus.
The agency questioned the journalist and also recorded the statement of an Uttarakhand MLA, who alleged that he was offered Rs. 2.5 crore in cash and an important position in the government for his support to the Finance Bill. Mr. Rawat has refuted the charges and demanded investigations into the background of those behind the alleged sting operation.
To meet Governor:- The road to the trust vote got a little more twisted as BJP legislators approached Governor K.K. Paul to disqualify at least a dozen Congress MLAs, who were allegedly caught in another sting operation selling their support. “In the sting operation [that was made public on Sunday] an MLA is seen accepting that Harish Rawat paid money to 12 MLAs to get their support during the floor test. We told the Governor that Mr. Rawat's horse-trading attempts would affect the floor test results and that appropriate action must be taken against him," Uttarakhand BJP president Ajay Bhatt told Media.
On Sunday morning, the video was made public in New Delhi, showing Congress MLA Madan Bisht claiming to dissident Congress MLA Harak Singh Rawat that money was being paid out by the Congress leadership to ensure support in Tuesday's trust vote. “This is the second sting operation that has come out against Harish Rawat, and it proves that he is determined to stay in power by means fair or foul," said senior BJP leader from the State, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari.
Meanwhile Mr. Rawat, reacting to the latest sting operation, said in a press conference in Dehradun that Bhupesh Upadhyay (a former Congress leader who is now with the BJP), BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, and former Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna's son Saket Bahuguna had “ganged up" against the Congress in an attempt to bring the BJP to power.
“Mr Vijayvargiya is trying to vitiate the political atmosphere of the State. Two senior bureaucrats are also involved with him," Mr. Rawat said, adding that it was the BJP that has indulged in horse-trading." “[After May 10] Congress would start a campaign against the conspirators who tried to topple my government and brought the State under President's Rule," he said.