‘Flood money’ diverted to promote Uttarakhand tourism by Virat Kohli?
Dehradun, Feb 25: The day when India cricket team was humiliated by rival Australia in the first test match on Saturday, the captain of the Indian team, Virat Kohli, was hit hard by a 'political' controversy.
According to a report published by The Times of India, Kohli was paid Rs 47.19 lakh in June 2015 from funds earmarked for victims of the 2013 Kedarnath floods in Uttarakhand for appearing in a 60-second tourism video. The allegations are based on a Right to Information reply sought by an activist, who is also a Bharatiya Janata Party member.
The report of misuse of flood fund by the incumbent Congress government under Chief Minister Harish Rawat has come to light just few days before the results of state assembly elections 2017 are about to be declared on March 11. Both the state government and Kohli's agent had dismissed the charges.
Bunty Sajdeh, the cricketer's agent and founder and CEO, Cornerstone Sport and Entertainment, said, "There has been no monetary transaction whatsoever."
Surendra Kumar, media advisor to the CM, said, "Tourism forms the backbone of the state's economy, therefore what is wrong if a prominent face is chosen to promote the state's destinations? Everything has been done in a legal way. These allegations are baseless. People know that redevelopment of Kedarnath has always been the priority of our government. The BJP is on the verge of losing elections, so it is coming up with such diversionary tactics out of frustration."
Kumar added, "I will ask the relevant departments to check details of the payment made to Kohli. It is the BJP that is alleging that Kohli was paid the money through an RTI that they have obtained. If the cricketer's representative is claiming that they haven't received the amount, we will get it checked."
Ajendra Ajay, the BJP man who had filed the RTI query, stands firm on his allegations. "The RTI reply shows that the amount was paid by the district disaster management authority of Rudraprayag after a clearance given by the Uttarakhand State Disaster Response Management Authority through an email. Why were the state disaster bodies used to pay Kohli? Also, what is the requirement of a brand ambassador for the state? What role do they play in the long run? This is nothing but sheer waste of money," Ajay said.