RK Anand, Jharkhand Olympic Association chief
Ranchi, Oct. 17: Former Rajya Sabha member and Jharkhand Olympic Association (JOA) president R.K. Anand, named in the Vigilance Bureau FIR over the multi-crore 34th National Games scam, broke his silence today, three days after two top bureaucrats were arrested on embezzlement charges, stressing it was he who had first spotted financial malpractices and deflected the blame to then Indian Olympic Association boss Suresh Kalmadi.
Admitting widespread graft in the Games, Delhi-based Anand, whose association with Jharkhand began in 2000 when he got nominated as Rajya Sabha member from here and who was National Games Organising Committee (NGOC) working chairman, said: “Corruption was paramount in everything associated with Games preparations till I came into picture.”
Speaking over phone from Delhi, Anand said that the Games in Jharkhand were to be held much before the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi (as a matter of fact they were scheduled in 2007).
“But, then president of the IOA Kalmadi, who was also Commonwealth Games chairman, didn’t want it to happen as we would have stolen the show,” Anand, Supreme Court lawyer, alleged.
“Kalmadi knew I would never toe his line. Even before the NGOC formally got constituted on May 1, 2008, Kalmadi had met then chief minister Madhu Koda and then sports minister Bandhu Tirkey with his own list of procurements, suppliers and what not. The government proactively went about floating tenders and placing orders. Event management company Wizcraft was unilaterally roped in with faulty clauses,” Anand alleged.
“The moment I stepped in, I discovered glaring malpractices and immediately stopped all tendering processes and procurements,” he claimed and added that he liaised with subsequent state governments to ensure the Games preparations were transparent.
“I raised the matter with Koda and Tirkey, asking how they could go ahead with procurements without the NGOC’s consent. The Koda government soon fell. The next CM was Shibu Soren, with whom I kept pursuing each and every matter. That government also fell. During President’s Rule, I reported everything to Raj Bhavan to curb vested interests. My formal complaints got former sports director P.C. Mishra removed. Then adviser to governor G. Krishnan in his report also mentioned that my complaints be probed by vigilance,” Anand added.
Vigilance, acting on the 2010 FIR filed by then secretary of state wrestling federation Bhola Nath Singh, started their probe against Anand, NGOC organising secretary S.M. Hashmi, NGOC treasurer Madhukant Pathak and former sports director Mishra.
Four years down, on October 14, sleuths arrested Hashmi and Mishra but stated they found no material evidence so far against Anand and Pathak.
Anand rubbished Bhola Nath Singh’s allegations against him as sour grapes. According to him, Singh resented the fact that he lost the JOA polls.
“If am not wrong, the JOA elections were held in Dhanbad in 2008. Since National Games were around, everyone, including Subodh Kant Sahay, Bhola Nath Singh, Amitabh Choudhary and host of other political lobbyists, wanted posts. When Bhola Nath faced defeat, he moved court to quash the election, which the court refused.
“He then started running helter-skelter with host of corruption charges in run-up to the Games. The case was an off shoot of his unsuccessful election.”
Anand stressed Jharkhand hosted the Games only because of him.
“I even invested about Rs 1.5 crore from my own pocket to make Games happen and get a lawn bowl stadium in Namkum. Today, you see, our lawn bowl team is number one in India,” he said.
The immediate fallout of Hashmi’s arrest on Tuesday was the cancellation of the meeting between JOA and state sports department scheduled yesterday on modalities for the 35th Kerala Games from January 31, 2015. Hashmi was also the full-time secretary of the JOA.
Jharkhand Wushu Association secretary Shivendu Dubey has now been appointed as JOA’s interim secretary.
“I am out of Ranchi now on personal engagements and unsure about my role at the moment. I will return tomorrow after which I will take charge. It’s a crucial time for me,” Dubey said.