The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttarakhand today accused Chief Minister Harish Rawat of diverting disaster relief funds worth crores of rupees for personal promotion and branding.
The BJP demanded his prosecution for "embezzling" the amount meant for people struck by the 2013 calamity.
Charging Rawat with signing noted sufi singer Kailash Kher for Rs 12 crore out of the disaster relief fund for making a serial on Kedarnath, Pradesh BJP spokesman Munna Singh Chauhan said "diverting funds meant for the relief of disaster-hit people was brazen violation of a Supreme Court ruling and liable for prosecution under law".
Terming "embezzlement of disaster relief funds" for the purposes of "entertainment" as criminal, Chauhan said both the chief minister and the Rudraprayag district administration "should be sued for their offence".
"Sufi music is not going to help in education of children orphaned by the disaster nor is it going to rebuild the damaged infrastructure in the disaster hit areas," the BJP leader said, adding that Rs 12 crore could have been used for reconstruction work in Kedarpuri which bore the brunt of the 2013 deluge which killed thousands of people.
Dismissing the chief minister's argument that the serial was meant to promote Kedarnath as a destination, Chauhan said the centuries-old temple was an internationally renowned centre of faith which needed no promotion.
"The Himalayan temple is one of the most revered centres of faith internationally and does not need to be promoted by the likes of Kailash Kher.
"You will be surprised to learn that the so-called serial made by Kher on Kedarnath lays more focus on Harish Rawat than on the shrine and Uttarakhand as a whole. It is an exercise in self-promotion," Chauhan said.
Citing the Supreme Court ruling in this regard, Chauhan said it clearly states that the state exchequer's hard-earned public money cannot be misused for personal promotion of politicians.
Chauhan said BJP has already written to Governor KK Paul drawing his attention to the embezzlement of disaster relief funds and violation of the apex court ruling by the state government.
Reminding the chief minister that Kedarnath was a world famous centre of faith and not a tourist destination, the state BJP spokesman said the centuries old Himalayan shrine should not be converted into a venue for entertainment extravaganzas.
"It was for this reason that when the chief minister mooted the idea of organising a Kedarnath Mahotsav sometime back, the teerth-purohits were the first to oppose," Chauhan said.
Accompanied by a host of ministers and officials, CM Rawat recently flew to Kedarnath and held a glittering function there in the presence of Kailash Kher to release the CD of his serial on the shrine divided into several episodes containing songs sung by him and the likes of Sonu Nigam, Shaan and Anup Jalota apart from voice overs from celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini.
Citing information received through RTI, Chauhan said a huge sum out of a total of Rs 12 crore has already been paid to the noted singer for making the serial.