As a major blow to the ousted Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) issued a summon to him for his alleged involvement in horse-trading as depicted in a sting operation. The video, purportedly showing Harish Rawat offering money to the rebel Congress legislators, was made by Umesh Kumar who runs a private news channel (Samachar Plus) and circulated by rebel Congress MLAs. Kumar was also questioned at CBI headquarters last week.
The opposition party in the state, BJP had demanded CBI probe into the matter, and a preliminary enquiry was registered by the CBI on April 28 after receiving a notification from Central government. The sting video CD was also sent to Chandigarh forensics laboratory which submitted in its report that the CD was genuine. The sting CD was send for verification to Chandigarh by Union Home Ministry.
Following the confirmation from forensics lab, CBI has asked Harish Rawat to appear before it on Monday, May 9.
While since the start Harish Rawat has been claiming innocence, taking a U-turn, admitted his presence in the video while talking to reporters last week. However, he said that meeting a journalist was not a crime. “Is meeting a journalist a crime? If one of the MLAs who had not been technically disqualified by that time talked to me…how does it matter? Do we block any channels in politics?” he said.
Umesh Kumar claimed that it took him three days to conduct the sting operation and he gave the video to rebel Congress MLAs because he wanted whole country to see the wrongdoing by Harish Rawat. Political uncertainty engulfed the Uttarakhand state when nine MLAs of the ruling Congress government moved against the money bill tabled by then Chief Minister Rawat in Assembly. These MLAs joined opposition BJP MLAs against the bill, and the state government moved to minority in the 70-seat assembly. Later the rebel MLAs were disqualified by the assembly speaker.
The sting video released by rebel Congress MLAs showed Harish Rawat negotiating with the journalist to buy the support of rebel legislators for proving his majority in assembly. The video made rounds in the national media and the Central government imposed President’s rule in the state after taking consideration from the President just a day before Rawat was to prove his majority.