The political situation in Uttarakhand turned murkier on Saturday with rebel Congress MLAs alleging they were offered money by Chief Minister Harish Rawat to back his government during the floor test on Monday. The rebels released a video which they claimed was a sting operation.
The sting video — shot by private TV channel Samachar Plus and released by rebel leaders Vijay Bahuguna and Harak Singh Rawat — shows the chief minister purportedly talking to a man whose face is not visible. Bahuguna and Rawat said the CM had offered them money and posts to secure their support.
There is no mention of money per se during the conversation. However, there are references to numbers like 15, 10 and 5 during the conversation.
The Congress and Rawat denied the charge, and said the “dirty tricks department” of the BJP was at work. AICC communication department head Randeep Surjewala said the party would not be cowed down by such tactics, conspiracies and threats.
Bahuguna and Harak Singh Rawat, on the other hand, demanded the CM’s immediate resignation. “The content of that CD proves that you (Rawat) are using undue influence and bribe to attract the nine MLAs… He should resign on moral grounds,” Bahuguna said.
BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said Harish Rawat had no right to remain in power even for a moment and that a party delegation would meet President Pranab Mukherjee to demand his intervention.
“We had told the Governor that the state government will indulge in horse-trading. We could not understand as to why he gave so many days to it to prove its majority in the Assembly. Our fears have come true. It has been clearly exposed today that Harish Rawat is busy buying over his own MLAs,” he told a press conference in Delhi.
At a press conference in Dehradun, the CM rejected the allegations, and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah of joining hands with “greedy” Congress rebels and some “so-called journalists” who blackmail politicians.
Rawat accused the journalist behind the alleged sting and the owner of the channel of making money by blackmailing politicians and chief ministers of the state. “The sting CD being shown on news channels is fake. The reputation of the man behind it, who is associated with a private news channel, is not hidden from anyone. His antecedents must be probed,” Rawat said.
Surjewala said the Uttarakhand government would prove its majority on the floor of the House on Monday. State Congress chief Kishore Upadhyay said: “It is all the job of the externed Amit Shah and his dirty tricks department,” alleging that after destabilising Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand had come on the radar of the ruling party at the Centre.
He claimed the Congress rebels and BJP were behind the “conspiracy of the fake CD” after they failed to get any relief from either the court or the Governor ahead of the crucial trust vote on Monday.