CBI to quiz Rawat on Tuesday

CBI to quiz Rawat on Tuesday
Setting the stage for a confrontation with the Congress-led Uttarakhand government, the CBI has summoned Chief Minister Harish Rawat for questioning on Tuesday.

This is the second time that Rawat has been summoned in connection with a sting operation on him, the first was on May 9. But Rawat is unlikely to appear for questioning on the ground that his government has already withdrawn the notification entrusting the case to CBI.

The summon to Rawat comes as they are continuing with the probe despite the withdrawal of the notification by the state government. CBI sources said the agency has taken legal opinion, which said that there was no ground for its withdrawal and it was "not legally tenable".

The Chief Minister has also not received any relief from the Uttarakhand High Court, which refused to quash the ongoing CBI probe into the sting operation on May 20.

Rawat, who denied the allegations, was purportedly shown talking about buying the support of some rebel Congress MLAs. The sting video was released by the nine rebel MLAs.

The CBI registered a preliminary enquiry on April 29 in to the sting operation when Uttarakhand was in political turmoil after budget presentation when rebel Congress MLAs opposed it.

The state was put under the President’s Rule on March 29 but after Supreme Court verdict, he returned to power winning a trust vote. Five days after winning the trust vote, the Uttarakhand Cabinet on May 15 withdrew the permission given to CBI by Governor K K Paul. It also decided to constitute a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to probe the case.

The CBI move is likely to set the stage for confrontation between Congress-led government and the Centre. The Congress had accused the BJP of trying to destabilise the state government and install its government in the state.

On its part, the CBI is claiming that the sting CD was sent to Central Forensics Science Laboratory in Chandigarh, which confirmed that the video was authentic. However, it is to be seen how could CBI move forward in the case at this stage.

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