CM Harish Rawat asked to appear before CBI on May 24
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Sunday issued fresh notice to Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat asking him to appear before the agency on May 24 in connection with a probe into the sting operation allegedly involving him.
The CBI had last week rejected the state government’s notification withdrawing the case related to the sting operation. The agency had summoned Rawat for examination for May 9 but he had sought more time after which he won the floor test and returned to power. After Rawat’s victory in the floor test, the state cabinet met on May 15 and withdrew the notification recommending the CBI probe into the sting operation. Instead, the state cabinet decided to constitute a Special Investigating Team to probe the case as it was a state subject.
Rawat had also approached the Uttarakhand high court asking it to stall the CBI probe. On May 20, the high court, however, asked him to cooperate in the probe.
According to a CBI official, the probe agency has prepared a set of 40 questions based on the sting and its transcripts for Rawat. The CBI has already tabulated the details of the CD’s forensic report, its transcript and the sequence of events before and after the sting was carried out. “The journalist who carried out the sting has already been questioned in detail about all the aspects of the CD, including his conversation with the CM before the sting. Now all this has to be corroborated, for which the CM’s questioning is required,” said the official.
On March 26, nine rebel Congress leaders had released the sting video and alleged that Rawat tried to buy their support for the floor test by offering them money. That floor test never took place as central rule was imposed on March 27. Following the intervention of the Supreme Court, however, the central rule was lifted and a floor test was held on May 10. Chief minister Rawat proved his majority in the assembly where the nine rebel MLAs weren’t allowed to vote.
It may be recalled that in the last week of April, Rawat accepted his presence in the sting tape, maintaining that meeting a journalist was not a crime. “Is meeting a journalist a crime? If one of the MLAs who had not been technically disqualified by that time talked to me … how does it matter? Do we block any channels in politics?” Rawat had told reporters.