The jury is out on whether the CBI probe into the sting video involving Congress veteran and former chief minster Harish Rawat will determine the future course of Uttarakhand politics. There are too many variables and a lot depends on the outcome of the investigation, feel observers.
The Rawat government was reduced to a minority after nine rebel Congress MLAs sided with the BJP on the Appropriation Bill on March 18, leading to the imposition of the President’s rule in the state. Days before that, the rebels had circulated a sting video, allegedly showing Rawat offering them bribes to buy them over.
The Centre recently ordered a CBI probe into the video.
If Rawat gets indicted, observers say, the Congress will suffer in the 2017 assembly elections.
“Such an outcome will inflict an irreparable damage to the credibility of the deposed chief minister” said Prof MM Semwal of HNB Garhwal (Central) University. “Since he represents the Congress in the state, its credibility too will be severely dented, which, I feel, would amply reflect in its possible performance in the next (2017) assembly elections,” he said.
“However, if the deposed chief minister comes out unscathed, the Congress party will literally sweep the assembly elections,” MC Joshi, maths professor at Kumaon University’s Nainital campus said.
However, a setback for the Congress does not necessarily mean that the BJP will gain. The observers were unanimous that an adverse outcome for Rawat could bring minnows like the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to the centre stage of state politics.
“Its (BJP) tally too won’t go beyond 20 (seats) in a House of 71 as the people are unhappy with both the parties, thanks to their non-performance and corruption in their regimes,” said MC Joshi.