Nagpur: With the ghost of sports scam in Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) showing its ugly head again, a sort of history is likely to repeat itself. When the scam had got exposed in 2002, voters had thrown the ruling BJP out of power and saddled Congress. Now, after 14 years when elections to NMC are round the corner, a pertinent question is being raised: Will the history repeat itself again? This is the hot topic of rounds and rounds of discussion in NMC as well as political circles.
The Rs 9-crore sports scam during the BJP regime was unearthed by Nandlal Committee, set up by the then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. The ghost of the scam resurfaced on Wednesday last and put the ruling BJP on the edge as two sitting MLAs Krishna Khopde, Vikas Kumbhare (then corporators) and several of its stalwarts had to face the ignominy of getting chargesheeted before a trial court on Wednesday. More than 102 corporators and ex-corporators along with then seven NMC officers have been implicated in the sports goods distribution scam.
Soon after the sports scam came to light, elections of NMC were declared which saw BJP licking dusts and Congress storming to power. Vikas Thakre won the election for the first time and became Mayor, too. However, at the end of three-year term, groupism gripped Congress to the advantage of BJP as the party emerged victorious in two consecutive elections.
The scam came to fore following Nandlal panel report which indicted corporators and officers for tweaking rules, violating all norms to distribute sports goods and funds to various organizations without adhering to any financial norm or without proper verification to unregistered organizations and clubs causing huge loss to the NMC. Nandlal had blamed the corporators for sanctioning sports goods worth Rs 5-7 lakh each in their respective wards without any authorization or without inviting any quotation. The sports scam was pegged at Rs 9 crore as per Nandlal panel. The entire scam was also probed by specially deputed officers of Finance Department and AG.
Ultimately, based on Nandlal report, the corporation led by BJP was superseded by Vilasrao Deshmukh government.
The stigma of alleged scam proved very costly for the BJP which lost the elections held in 2002 to Congress.