The BJP has criticised the Uttarakhand government and said that using funds meant for disaster victims for making payments to cricketer Virat Kohli and musician Kailash Kher for a promotional video of the state is an insult to them. "By making payments to Virat Kohli and Kailash Kher out of disaster funds, Chief Minister Harish Rawat has not only insulted the disaster victims but also these celebrities who were not aware out of what fund they were being paid," state BJP president Ajay Bhatt said.
Rawat had on Sunday defended paying Rs 47.19 lakh from the disaster relief fund to a firm, in which Kher has a stake, for a tourism video featuring Kohli, saying it was the government's prerogative to make payments from any fund.
It is likely that they would have refused to accept the amount given to them by the state government had they known they were being paid from funds meant for people devastated bythe 2013 Kedarnath deluge, Bhatt said in a statement released soon after the chief minister's conference on Sunday.
The BJP has demanded that Rawat should apologise to the disaster victims, the celebrities and the people of Uttarakhand in general for doing something which tantamounted to insulting them.
On the basis of information obtained under RTI, BJP leader Ajendra Ajay had recently accused Harish Rawat government ofmaking a payment of over Rs 47 lakh to Kohli through Kailasa entertainment Pvt ltd for a 60-second video in which the cricketer is seen promoting tourist and religious destinationsin the state.
A few months ago Ajay had accused the state government ofpaying Kher in crores out of disaster funds for making a promotional documentary on Char Dham. However, Rawat had on Sunday justified the payment made tothe cricketer, saying spreading the message of a safe Char Dham pilgrimage or promoting Uttarakhand as a safe tourist destination was equally important as carrying out reconstruction and rehabilitation work in the disaster-affected areas.