DEHRADUN: A local TV channel Monday aired a sting video purportedly showing the Congress candidate from Bhimtal assembly seat, Dan Singh Bhandari, accusing chief minister Harish Rawat of partially backing out on a horse-trading deal worth ₹7 crore.
Monday was the last day for campaigning for the February 15 assembly elections in Uttarakhand where Rawat-led Congress is seeking a second consecutive term against a resurgent BJP, which has not projected a VM face but had built its campaign around prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Bhandari, a former BJP MLA from Bhimtal, joined the Congress a day before Rawat won the Supreme Court-monitored floor test on May 11 last year. The BJP has now demanded a CBI probe into the sting video.
“We demand that the chief secretary recommend that the Centre order a CBI probe into the sting video purportedly showing Bhandari accusing the CM of not fulfilling the horse-trading deal,” state BJP president Ajay Bhatt said.
“It is a clear case of horse trading, which relates to a corrupt system and should be thoroughly investigated,” he told HT.
The ruling Congress, however, questioned the timing of the video and alleged that it had been released to defame the ruling party ahead of the assembly polls. “We will take up this issue with the election commission”, said state Congress vice-president Jot Singh Bisht.
The video was telecast by a regional TV channel, Samachar Plus. It purportedly shows Bhandari telling a Rawat aide that he (CM) had offered him ₹7 crore in lieu of joining the Congress to save his government ahead of the Supreme Court monitored floor test on May 11. The video also purportedly shows him (Bhandari) accusing the CM of not paying ₹3 crore of the total deal of ₹7 crore. It also purportedly shows him admitting being in receipt of ₹4 crore of the total deal.
Bhandari was not available for comment.
The channel owner Umesh Kumar said that it was a ₹7-crore crore deal between Bhandari and Rawat. ₹4 crores were already paid while remaining amount could not be delivered due to demonetisation as that money was deposited in the bank accounts of some farmers, which can be verified.
“The matter will also go to the CBI as a bribe case against Rawat is already being investigated by the apex investigating agency,” he told HT.
Kumar claimed that “video that was screened by the channel, also available on YouTube, establishes the first and clear deal of horse trading by Rawat who poached the then sitting BJP MLA Bhandari from Bhimtal”. Bhandari later joined the Congress and was nominated as party candidate from the same constituency for the ensuing state assembly elections.
Kumar’s news channel had earlier aired two other sting videos of Rawat and another Congress MLA Madan Singh Bisht in which they were seen striking deal to bring back rebel Congress MLAs in the party fold.