Dehradun: Deposed Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat on Sunday virtually accepted his presence in a sting video, but said 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 told reporters.
Since the video had come into public domain, he had insisted that the sting CD of him was "fake".
"If someone says he was lying, it is possible other person was also lying," Rawat said on alleged sting operation.
"Did I say I needed MLAs or offered cash at any point of time?," Rawat added, as per ANI.
Claiming innocence, Rawat said if the CD contained evidence of him having made an offer in cash or kind in exchange for the support of disgruntled MLAs he was ready to be hanged in public.
Alleging that the sting operation and the CBI probe into it were part of a "criminal conspiracy" by BJP to topple an elected government, he dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah to put him in jail if he is found in the wrong.
"If any evidence is found against me like me offering money or post to anybody, hang me at Clock tower," he said, as per PTI.
Clock tower is a busy chowk in the heart of the town.
However, from what the deposed chief minister said it was clear that a meeting did take place between him and the journalist who made the sting CD.
"Why should anyone spend Rs 15 crore for me. The man (journalist) was saying something meaningless to while away my time and I said something to while away his. How does it matter? We keep saying things like this on a daily basis. Does that mean they should be used against us?" Rawat said.
The sting CD made by the editor-in-chief of a private news channel and circulated by the nine Congress rebels, who created a political crisis in the state by siding with opposition BJP in the state Assembly, purportedly shows Rawat negotiating a money deal with the journalist to buy the support of MLAs who had revolted against him.
(With Agency inputs)