Dehradun: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat on Wednesday rejected BJP's allegations of corruption against him over alleged changes in liquor policy saying the party was "desperate" and making the charge to deflect national attention from scams involving its top leaders.
At the same time, he promised action against Mohammad Shahid, his personal secretary, who the BJP has alleged had demanded commissions from private dealers for being given liquor license, if it is proved that he was the one doing it in a video clipping shot during a sting operation.
Addressing a press conference shortly after Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman accused him of accumulating illegal wealth by tweaking liquor policy by benefiting private liquor dealers, he said the charges were "baseless" and "far from truth".
He was reacting to Sitharaman's charges at a press conference in Delhi where she had produced a video clipping of a sting operation purportedly showing Rawat's Personal Secretary talking to liquor dealers allegedly demanding commission for giving them licenses.
"BJP is trying to divert public attention from the charges of corruption against their ministers by setting up these baseless and false allegations.
"There were no changes in FL2 (foreign liquor) policy because it is in the hands of public sector undertakings (PSU). Since they are not in private hands why would we talk to private parties?" Rawat asked.
Changes were instead brought in the country liquor policy framed by the erstwhile BJP government, he said.
Questioning the veracity of the video, Rawat said he had ordered that it should be sent for forensic examination once they obtain it.
"The audio and video is not clear. I have ordered it (clipping) to be procured and sent for forensic tests. There is no clarity as to when it was recorded. If anyone is found guilty action will be taken," he said.
Hitting back at BJP, Rawat said he failed to understand how the party reached the conclusion (of his personal secretary's involvement in the matter).
He said the BJP was desperate to deflect allegations against Union Ministers and some of its Chief Ministers and hence, charges are being levelled against Uttarakhand Government.
The Chief Minister further said that he was "not sure" if the person seen in the video footage released by BJP was Shahid. He, however, maintained if it is proved that person indeed is Shahid and that he had involvement in the matter, then action will be taken against him.
"But there is no doubt that private persons do not have any role in the bulk trade of liquors as it is in the hands of public sector undertakings.
"In fact, a near and dear one of BJP was involved in bulk liquor trade. But now (after his government introduced a new policy), the BJP in the state is feeling quite hurt and hence was raising the issue time and again," Rawat said.