Kalmadi shoots silver in Games blame game

Organising Committee chairman asks Sheila Dikshit to do self-reflection
Last Updated 18 October 2010, 05:01 IST

Projecting himself as innocent, despite the huge cost overruns incurred to prepare for and host the Games, Organising Committee (OC) chairman Suresh Kalmadi on Sunday hit back at Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, claiming that allegations of corruption against the body were “most disappointing and uncalled for”.

As Kalmadi and Dikshit bickered, the probe into the alleged financial irregularities gathered pace with several investigating agencies swinging into action.  With directions from the Prime Minister’s Office to expedite the inquiry, the Comptroller and Auditor General and Income Tax Department started concentrating on the construction and procurement misappropriations.

The Central Vigilance Commission recently issued a reminder to the CPWD, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Delhi Development Authority and the PWD, seeking details of procurement and tender documents.

On the eve of the crucial Group of Ministers meeting, Kalmadi met Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy, who also heads the group, but details of the deliberations were not known. Monday’s meeting will focus on how the OC spent the Rs 1,600 crore given by the Centre.

Predictable reaction

Feeling chastened a day after Dikshit pointed accusing fingers at the OC for the alleged corruption, Kalmadi hit back at the three-time Delhi chief minister, saying she must indulge in self-reflection on misappropriation of Games fund in her own departments.

Dikshit’s holier-than-thou outburst at Kalmadi and the glaring financial irregularities had the predictable reaction from the embattled sports administrator.  Kalmadi said keeping quiet should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness and that the OC would not want to be the “scapegoat” any more.

He said the OC has already welcomed the prime minister’s decision to set up a probe panel and hoped that the terms of reference of the Shunglu Committee will include not just the scope of work undertaken by the OC at a budget of Rs 1,620 crore but also the Rs 16,000 crore spent by the Delhi government.

“Despite a series of attacks in the run up to the Games, I was quiet as I wanted the Games to succeed. Keeping quiet should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness. Nor should patience be seen as a sign of guilt. It was more important to focus on the task of conducting the Games well,” Kalmadi said.

Since the Games ended last week, Kalmadi has found himself increasingly isolated within the Congress after being snubbed by Singh  and  Sonia Gandhi as both did not invite him while felicitating the medal winners.

Powerful people in Delhi’s corridors of power have been busy in misplaced self-congratulations or attacking others for not getting their due share of the limelight. This was exemplified last Thursday when Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Tejender Khanna complained in a letter to the prime minister that too much credit for the “turnaround miracle” in cleaning up the Games Village was going to Dikshit.

(Published 17 October 2010, 12:06 IST)

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