Uttarakhand: New 'sting' claimed as horse-trading by Rawat

Days before former Congress Chief Minister Harish Rawat takes a floor test to prove his majority in the Uttarakhand assembly, a new sting video has emerged, which shows a Congress lawmaker levelling cash-for-votes allegations against Rawat.

The Congress lawmakers purportedly taking part in the conversation in the video was Madan Bisht, considered close to the chief minister, and rebel lawmaker Harak Singh Rawat. In the latest video an MLA is seen claiming that Harish Rawat gave Rs25 lakh to some of his MLAs.

The BJP promptly held a press conference and some within the party are said to be exploring the possibility of moving court taking note of the fresh sting.

Rawat has accused BJP of blackmail. "The Centre and its BJP government are spreading divisive politics," Rawat told the media on Sunday. "I have decided that after 10 May (the date of the trust vote), we will start a campaign against these blackmailers."

"Our MLAs and leaders are getting threatening messages from conduits who are posing as relatives, well-wishers and acquaintances," Awat also told reporters. "I am also being kept under surveillance as if I am an anti-national."

The sting was aired by the same channel, which had come out with the earlier sting video that alleged Rawat had engaged in horse-trading - bribing Congress dissidents to return to the party fold in order to maintain his numbers in the assembly.

The opposition BJP had cited the video as one of as one of key evidences of "constitutional crisis" that justified the imposition of President's Rule in the state.

The timing of the video's release is also crucial - it comes a day before the Lok Sabha is expected to take up the Uttarakhand budget. The Centre had argued that the government of Rawat could not carry through the finance bill, which was the other reason it cited for the imposition of President's Rule in Uttarakhand.

The top court has suspended President's Rule for two hours on Tuesday for the trust vote. It has also disqualified the nine rebel Congress legislators who have been disqualified by the Speaker. In the reduced assembly - 62 down from 71 -Rawat needs the support of 32 lawmakers to prove his majority.

The BJP on Sunday asserted that it will form government in Uttarakhand after 10 May, claiming that a new sting video showed that ousted Chief Minister Harish Rawat has lost the support of Congress MLAs and he was bound to lose the trust vote on Tuesday.

"If they think that by giving money, they will save the floor then they are wrong. On tenth, the majority will go against Congress and the new government will be formed by BJP," party leader Bhagat Singh Koshyari told reporters. Terming Rawat's conduct as "shameful", he said that Congress is performing its "last rites" in the state as they have kept a leader who is "insulting his own party".