CBI summons Uttarakhand ex-CM Rawat to Delhi

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday summoned ousted Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat to Delhi for questioning on Monday in a corruption case related to a "sting" video in which he is purportedly seen offering bribes to buy legislative support for his government.

The summon comes after the CBI on 29 April began probing the videoed "sting operation" allegedly showing Rawat offering money to rebel Congress lawmakers to win their support during a floor test in the 70-member house. The floor test never took place as the Centre imposed President's Rule in the state.

The sting video was shot by a Noida-based private TV channel, Samachar Plus, and released by the rebel Congress legislators.

The BJP had alleged that Rawat had tried to buy back the support of his own lawmakers who had rebelled. Rawat has denied the allegation, saying he was being framed.

The union home ministry sent a CD of the video to the forensics laboratory in Chandigarh to examine its authenticity.

According to IANS, a source in the CBI said the forensic report "confirmed" that the CD was genuine and "undoctored", after "which Harish Rawat was asked to appear on Monday for questioning".

The source said CBI officials have also questioned property developer-turned-journalist Umesh Kumar, who claimed to have carried out the sting.

A rebel Congress legislator has also been questioned.

The source said he told the CBI that Rawat called him to his office and offered him Rs2.5 crore and an important post if he supported him.

Another minister in the Rawat government offered the same legislator Rs10 crore for the support, the source said.

Uttarakhand is without an elected government after Rawat was dismissed following a rebellion in the ruling Congress. The central government imposed President's Rule in the state on 27 March.

Rawat has challenged the presidential proclamation and the matter is being heard by the Supreme Court.

The top court has suggested to the BJP-led central government to let Rawat prove his legislative majority on the floor of the house.

The central government on Wednesday sought two days to "seriously consider" the suggestion (See: Uttarakhand: 'seriously considering' floor test, Centre tells SC). The case comes up for hearing on Friday.