FIR against Harish Rawat on horse trading charges

Harish Rawat

The CBI on Wednesday named former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat and his former Cabinet colleague Harak Singh Rawat, who is now a minister in BJP-led state government, in a horse-trading case in 2016 when the Congress leader was trying to regain power.

The filing of an FIR came three years after a preliminary enquiry registered in April 2016 found prima facie evidence against Harish Rawat, Harak Singh Rawat and Samachar Plus channel editor Umesh Kumar, who allegedly acted as a middleman between the politicians.

The CBI examined a video shot by Kumar, that was later authenticated by Forensic Science Laboratory in Gujarat's Gandhinagar, which purportedly showed Harish Rawat discussing money to win back the support of disgruntled MLAs who had crossed over to the BJP, so that he could get back to power.

The Forensic Laboratory had said that there was "no addition/deletion/insertion/tampering/morphing in the video files indicating that the recordings are genuine".

According to the findings of the preliminary enquiry, which forms part of the FIR, Harak Singh Rawat and dissident Congress MLAs had left Dehradun for Gurugram in the outskirts of Delhi in a chartered flight. Kumar met Harak Singh Rawat, after which the latter asked the editor to negotiate with Harish Rawat for money to support the Congress government.

Kumar had arranged a phone call between both the leaders on March 23, 2016 and recorded the conversation between them using his mobile phone, according to the CBI.

The agency claimed that Kumar spoke to Harak Singh Rawat over the phone before Harish Rawat's arrival, during which he told the former to tell the then Chief Minister that the editor will negotiate on his behalf.

Kumar then told Harish Rawat that Harak Singh Rawat should be given the post of Deputy Chief Minister and if that was not possible, two departments of his choice should be given, as well as cash.

Harish Rawat apparently told Kumar that they can come back and earn from departments where they can even earn more than Rs 30 crore and he had nothing left to pay him. Kumar allegedly told Harish Rawat that he would arrange Rs 5-7 crore and wanted the latter to arrange another Rs 5 crore.

Later, Kumar said he would arrange Rs 10 crore while Harish Rawat should arrange Rs five crore. Later, the CBI claimed, Kumar and Harish Rawat agreed on inducting Harak Singh Rawat as a minister with two departments and Rs 15 crore instead of Rs 25 crore will be paid.

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