The Uttarakhand Congress government led by Harish Rawat has found itself in a soup after an RTI query by an activist and BJP member Ajendra Ajay has revealed that the government had paid about Rs. 47.19 Lakh to Virat Kohli for a 60 second advertisement promoting the state’s tourism from the post-disaster rehabilitation fund which was created after the horrifying floods which hit the state in 2013.
Kohli was made the brand ambassador of Uttarakhand in 2015 and such a high profile appointment was understandable as the state’s tourism was struggling since the natural disaster and celebrity endorsements do seem to work.
A copy of the RTI reveals the fact that the amount was paid by the District Disaster Management(DDM) authority of Rudraprayag from the amount earmarked for the reconstruction and rehabilitation in the Shri Kedarnath Dham area. The DDM authority paid this amount at the instruction of Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Authority (USDMA), which they received via an email on 26th June 2015.
The BJP also alleged that the Congress government has failed to utilize the funds properly and have managed to build only two of the 12 suspension bridges in the Kedar valley which were washed away in the floods. The Congress govt’s unfortunate decision to use up rehabilitation funds might not be the only headache it might face in this episode as allegations of a scam too are surfacing. The agent of Kohli, Bunty Sajdeh claimed that there was no monetary transaction and that Kohli didn’t receive any money for the video. If this claim is indeed true then where did the Rs 49.19 lakh rupees which the RTI claims were paid to Kohli go?
Though on a brighter note, his is the advertisement featuring Kohli and to be fair its really well made.