New Delhi: Buoyed by his victory in the floor test, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat today ruled out possibility of snap polls saying his state cannot afford that, even as he asserted he would work with the Centre to initiate development while forgetting the past.
He also attacked CBI for working with a "particular frame of mind of treating me like an accused" and said the agency's credentials and impartiality are at stake in the case. He, however, said he would cooperate with the agency.
Rawat, who is in the capital since yesterday, met top Congress leaders including Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, and Ambika Soni, party general secretary and in-charge of party in Uttarakhand. He met Gandhi yesterday along with some of his Cabinet colleagues.
"I do not want to go in for fresh polls. Uttarakhand can't afford that. In politics, it may be advisable to go for elections because right now there is a lot of sympathy. But sympathy is one thing, duty is another. The call of the duty is that I should focus on development to bring the state back on track. I will see the state's interests first," he told reporters.
"There is an enormous challenge now to build the state from here. I can't afford to antagonise anyone. We need the Centre's support. I will again urge the Centre that let us forget on what has happened," he said.
Rawat said he was keen to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and strengthen federalism, while seeking his support and cooperation for Uttarakhand's development to send across the message that the prime minister also cares for the hill state.
"I wish to meet the Prime Minister around May 15/16. I am myself in a hurry. I am very keen. There are many pending issues. But right now we want that the message should go that Prime Minister cares about Uttarakhand also," he said, seeking his cooperation in taking the state on path of development.
Questioning the CBI which is investigating a sting on him in winning support of MLAs before the trust vote, he said he will cooperate with the investigating agency and his party has also asked him to do so.
"CBI is a premier investigating agency constituted to deal with serious cases of corruption of national importance. I have respect for CBI and I will cooperate with it on the sting probe. There is an advice from my party that I should cooperate with CBI. But CBI cannot work with that frame of mind of treating a law-abiding citizen as an accused. The credentials and impartiality of CBI are at stake," he said.
On his ties with the Centre after it dismissed his government, Rawat said, "We are a part of Union of India in federal structure for strengthening federalism. To strengthen Indian democracy, Uttarakhand also wants to play its role. Allow us to play our own role," he said.
Rawat asked CBI to look into various aspects of the sting including it being carried out in a prohibited area, of toppling an elected government through a conspiracy and with use of money power, besides violation of norms of selling the sting and the angle of blackmailing.
"The CBI should keep these factors in mind while dealing with the probe," he said.
The chief minister also raised questions on his summoning by the CBI before and after the trust vote, saying the agency cannot do so while during a preliminary inquiry.
"I am not bothered about the CBI. I will say CBI is an impartial organisation, but it should look into the issues raised by me. I am waiting that they should handcuff me if they want... Not in Delhi, but before the people of Uttarakhand. I will accept it considering it as 'parsad'," he said, claiming instead of being treated an accused he is actually a victim as his elected government was toppled in a conspiracy.
Asked if he would like the state's budget to be passed by the Assembly, he said, "I will consult constitutional experts. It is a major area of concern. As far as my assembly is concerned, it passed the budget, but Centre has taken the stand that it is not passed. I will certainly go into the legality of this and then move forward."
On a possible reshuffle in his Cabinet, Rawat said, it is secondary and his priority is how to put the state back on path of development and "how to connect the cut lines".
Asked his opinion about Centre-state ties, he said, "I am not the right choice to be asked this question after what I have experienced in the last two months."
He lamented that the development process had been stalled due to the imposition of President's rule as policy making and expenditure were mainly done during the last month and the first month of a year. "Killing March is like killing half the development process," he said....