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New ‘bribery’ video surface, Harish Rawat alleges threats; focus on BSP MLAs

Taking potshots at Rawat, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday said he was power hungry and could go to any extent to remain in power.

Written by Devyani Onial | Dehradun |
Updated: May 9, 2016 5:01:50 am
Harish Rawat, Uttarakhand, uttarakhand crisis, harish rawat, uttarkhand floor test, video bribery sting, bribery sting, Congress MLA Madan Singh, india news, indian express Harish Rawat with Cong state chief Kishor Upadhyay in Dehradun Sunday. (Express Photo: Virender Singh Negi)

Two days Before the crucial floor test in Uttarakhand, a fresh sting video has emerged, apparently showing Congress MLA Madan Singh Bisht saying he had convinced former chief minister Harish Rawat to pay lakhs of rupees to Congress MLAs.

The video was aired on Sunday by regional news channel Samachar Plus, which had earlier done a sting on Rawat as well. Rawat is appearing before the CBI in the case on Monday.

Read | Horsetrading sting: CBI summons Uttarakhand ex-CM Harish Rawat

The video released Sunday purportedly shows Bisht telling rebel Congress MLA Harak Singh Rawat that he got the former chief minister to pay Rs 25 lakh each to 12 Congress MLAs as “kharcha-paani (pocket change)”.

Minutes before the video was aired, Bisht filed an FIR at Rajpur police station in Dehradun, alleging he was being threatened by Harak Singh Rawat and his allies to vote against Rawat.

In the signed document, he said they, along with the BJP, were trying to besmirch his reputation and had threatened to have false cases filed against him.

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Commenting on the sting, Congress state president Kishor Upadhyay said, “This looks like a conspiracy same as the previous sting. We are looking at legal recourse. After all, there are guidelines that govern sting operations.”

Rawat accused the Centre of blackmail, promising to start a campaign against it after May 10. “Our leaders are receiving threatening calls. My phone lines are being tapped,” he said. “I am also being kept under surveillance as if I am an anti-national.”

Read | Uttarakhand floor test: Congress worries as BJP woos other MLAs

Ahead of the May 10 floor test, and the high court hearing on rebel Congress MLAs, all eyes are on the six members who had been part of the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) supporting the Rawat government. While former education minister Mantri Prasad Naithani, an Independent, has been maintaining his and others’ full support to the Congress, there have been whispers about the wavering support of the BSP.

Two BSP MLAs, one legislator of the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal and three Independents had made up the PDF.

BSP MLAs Haridas and Sarbat Karim Ansari say they are no longer part of the grouping and will vote according to party chief Mayawati. “We are no longer part of the PDF but we support the Congress. Par humein Behenji ke decision ka intezaar hai (We are waiting for Behenji’s decision),” said Haridas.

“I am just a soldier of the party. I will do only what Behenji asks us to do. You should understand which way the party will go,” said Ansari, adding that he had not spoken to Rawat in recent days.

Rumours about the BSP legislators distancing themselves from the Congress had gained traction when they didn’t attend the lunch Rawat hosted for his MLAs in Dehradun on April 22.

Ansari and Haridas have not accompanied the Congress and its alliance legislators to Mussoorie and Dhanaulti either, where they are camping. They are expected to be back in Dehradun Monday to meet Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ambika Soni.

Rawat though has expressed confidence about BSP support. “The BSP is a secular party and that is why they have lent us their support. I am sure they will continue to back us and not a communal party like the BJP,” he said.

Upadhyay too said they were confident of support from all the legislators who were once part of their alliance. “It’s not as if they will support us only because of sheer love. It is because they all understand that the people of Uttarakhand are very aware and they don’t want to anger them. Just for a few months or for some money, woh apna political career bhasm thode karenge (they won’t destroy their career). The biggest thing at this point is credibility,” he said.

While the BJP is said to have established links with the Independents, state chief Ajay Bhatt insisted they hadn’t spoken to anyone. “The PDF is a house divided. There are three Independents among them. They are at liberty to take their decisions as individuals. I am sure they will not remain intact,” said BJP spokesperson Munna Singh Chauhan.

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