The Election Commission (EC) asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to not use the content of the sting video that purportedly showed chief minister Harish Rawat offering bribes to rebel Congress legislators in March last year to get their support in an assembly floor test.
On March 18 last year, nine Congress MLAs led by former CM Vijay Bahuguna turned rebels to support the BJP. In the video, made public on March 26, Rawat was shown interacting with the owner of a news channel and allegedly offering bribes. The sting operation paved the way for the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand on March 27 last.
The BJP had sought to use the CD’s clippings as a part of its campaign material to “expose the corruption-ridden Congress government” by displaying them on its poll vans, which were flagged off earlier this week.
“Since it was an important matter, we (the state election machinery) had referred it to the EC for seeking its guidance. After studying the case, the commission said that since the matter is sub judice (under judicial consideration), the BJP should not use its content for campaigning,” Uttarakhand chief electoral officer Radha Raturi told HT on Friday. “The decision has been communicated to the BJP,” she said.
The BJP said that it would abide by the EC’s decision. “We will follow their (EC’s) order, but will seek legal opinion in the matter at the same time,” BJP’s state media in charge Devendra Bhasin told HT.
Rawat had earlier alleged that the CBI was working under pressure from the BJP-led Centre to conduct a probe into the sting CD video to disturb the Congress campaign for the assembly election.
The CBI asked Rawat to appear before it in connection with the probe, but the CM avoided meeting the agency. The chief minister questioned legal validity of the sting CD case. He said the sting CD had no locus standi after his government had been reinstated under a Supreme Court-monitored floor test on May 10.