New Delhi, Feb 25: The Harish Rawat-led Uttarakhand government has landed itself into another big controversy ahead of assembly elections results after an RTI activist claimed that the Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli was allegedly paid a whopping Rs. 47.19 lakh in June 2015 from funds reserved for 2013 Kedarnath flood victims.
The ace cricketer was paid this money for appearing in a 60-second tourism video to promote the state tourism. Kohli was hired as the brand ambassador for the state of Uttarakhand.
According to a report in ToI, Virat's agent Bunty Shah, who is also the founder & CEO of Cornerstone Sport and Entertainment, denied the reports saying, "There has been no monetary transaction whatsoever."
This came even as Bunty Sajdeh, Virat's agent and founder & CEO, Cornerstone Sport and Entertainment, said, "There has been no monetary transaction whatsoever.
"Reacting to the charges, 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. BJP is on the verge of losing elections, so it is coming up with such diversionary tactics out of frustration."
Told that Virat's representative has denied any such transaction between the Uttarakhand government and the cricketer took place, Kumar added, "I will ask the relevant departments to check details of the payment made to Kohli. "It is BJP that is alleging that Virat 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."
The Uttarakhand unit of the BJP, armed with the RTI reply, mounted a sustained attack on the Congress through most of Friday. Ajendra Ajay, who had filed the RTI query in this regard, said Kohli was paid the amount ostensibly for appearing in the minute-long promotional video for Uttarakhand Tourism. "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.