Other States

CBI books ex-Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat, others on graft charge

Harish Rawat, former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. File

Harish Rawat, former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Central Bureau of Investigation has booked former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat, his then Cabinet colleague Minister Harak Singh Rawat, Samachar Plus news channel’s CEO Umesh Kumar and others on graft charge.

Mr. Harak Singh Rawat is now in the Cabinet of the BJP government in the State.

It is alleged that Mr. Harak Singh Rawat had sought a Cabinet berth, two departments of choice and money to help the then Chief Minister Harish Rawat save his government by getting back the support of three dissident Congress MLAs, including him. Mr. Harish Rawat agreed to the demands, says the FIR.

The agency initiated a preliminary enquiry into the matter on April 25, 2016, following a go-ahead from the competent State authority to pursue a complaint lodged by Mr. Harak Singh Rawat.

As the Congress government was reduced to a minority, President’s rule had been imposed in the State on March 27, 2016, two days after the complaint, comprising a video clip, was submitted to the Uttarakhand Governor.

The dissident MLAs had also released the clip to the media, alleging that the then Chief Minister offered posts and money to win back their support. He was accused of issuing threats to the legislators and their family members, besides indulging in horse-trading. However, Mr. Harish Rawat denied all the allegations.

“The PE [preliminary enquiry] revealed that after passing of the Finance Bill on March 18, 2016, in the Uttarakhand Assembly, dissident MLAs of the Congress — along with members from the BJP — left Dehradun by a chartered flight,” the FIR says. They shifted to Gurugram.

Mr. Kumar, who allegedly mediated the deal on Mr. Harak Rawat’s behalf, met him in Gurugram and was told to convey the demands for the post of Deputy Chief Minister, two departments of choice and cash.

He discussed the issue with Mr. Harish Rawat in the VIP lounge of Dehradun airport on March 23, 2016, and also made him talk to Mr. Harak Rawat on the phone. All conversations were recorded by him.

Mr. Kumar then told Mr. Harish Rawat that if the post of Deputy Chief Minister was not possible, the three dissidents would settle for two departments of choice and cash.

The Chief Minister said the legislators could earn up to ₹30 crore from the departments and that he had no cash with him, at which Mr. Kumar offered to arrange ₹5 crore to 7 crore, and asked him to get another ₹5 crore. Mr. Harish Rawat told him to get the entire amount, promising to return it later with some more money.

The cash component was settled at “15” instead of “25”, apart from the post of Minister and two departments, to which Mr. Harish Rawat allegedly consented, as alleged.

The CBI said the Forensic Science Laboratory (Gandhinagar, Gujarat) found the recorded video conversation to be genuine.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 7:39:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/harish-rawat-case/article29777590.ece

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