As we have learnt over and over again, there is no escaping the weight of politics in Indian sports. Occasionally, basketball has found some infamy in the Indian political conversation, too.
Earlier this week, several media houses reported news of the so-called "Donation Gate", a controversy that was spurred up from a secret diary allegedly found at the residence of Karnataka's Legislative Council MLC of the Congress Party, K. Govindraj. Govindraj's diary was seized during an Income Tax raid of several politicians a few months ago. It was only recently, however, that news leaked that this diary contained suspicious entries detailing payoffs of money passing hands in payoffs of hundreds of crores.
Why is this news important on a basketball blog? Well, because this is the same Govindraj who happens to the president of ruling executive committee of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), running much of its operations from Bengaluru. He is also the president of Karnataka Olympic Association.
Here are more details of this case, including the diary entries and Govindraj's response, as written by Navika Kumar on The Times of India:
The secret diary No. AKG03 speaks of a staggering Rs 600 crore routed to mysterious names like AICC, AP, M Vora, SG office, RG office and DGS. The diary also has an entry under steel bridge from where Rs 65 crore was marked as received. There is one entry which shows Rs 7 crore being paid to media for the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike elections. The income tax department had called in Govindraj for questioning about the entries on February 11, 2017.
Govindraj claimed the handwriting isn't his and the signatures were forged. The Congress, too, has claimed the diary is fake and an attempt to malign them, while the BJP has called for a detailed investigation into it.
Govindraj disowned the diary almost a year ago, reports The Hindu.
Congress leaders pointed out (quoting the statement recorded during the inquiry) that Mr. Govindaraj had told the I-T sleuths during questioning repeatedly that the diary did not belong to him. He had also filed a complaint with the Indiranagar police on March 21, 2016, suspecting that the “mysterious diary” was “planted” in his house by some unknown persons with “malicious intent”.
“Mr. Govindaraj had disowned the diary not now, but almost a year ago throughout the course of the inquiry. So the leakage by whatever source amounts to breach of trust by the Income Tax Department,” said Congress spokesperson and MLC V.S. Ugrappa.
Only future investigation will reveal the truth behind the diary and the consequences - if any - for Govindraj. As usual, the rest of us of the Indian Basketball fraternity will be hoping that the controversy doesn't spill over to mar the sport itself.