Punish the guilty

The high-level committee appointed by the prime minister to probe the charges of corruption, inefficiency and inadequacy related to the conduct of the Commonwealth Games has started its work. Former Comptroller and Auditor-General V K Shunglu is holding the investigation and the report is likely to be ready within three months. Though the country can well be proud of the performance of its sportspersons in the Games, the bad preparations in the run-up to the Games and the mismanagement had brought much embarrassment and shame to the country.  Much of the muck was swept under the carpet in the last few days but it was a very narrow escape. There is an attempt now to whitewash the sordid record of the organisers by citing the ‘success’ of the Games. But this success was in spite of them,  rather than because of them and the dazzle of medals should not blind us to the dark side of the entire matter.

Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi has in true political style upped the ante by going on the offensive against Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit. These diversionary tactics should be taken for just what they are. An entire phalanx of politicians and officials are involved in the sorry affair and none of them should be allowed to go scot free. Investigations by the Central Vigilance Commission, the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate are also going on. When the investigations are on, the men and women whose conduct will be under the lens should not be allowed to hold their positions.

Kalmadi, Union ministers S S Gill, Jaipal Reddy, Sheila Dikshit, the Delhi Lt-governor and senior government officials all have varying levels of responsibility and culpability, and fairness demands that they be kept away from their positions during the duration of the inquiry.

The inquiry is a test case of the government’s willingness and ability to act against corruption and much other wrong-doing that attended the Games. The prime minister has promised that action would be taken but experience says such enquiries do not finally lead anywhere and the guilty often get away. Investigations are sometimes subverted, the reports are late and when they come out the issue would have been forgotten, and even when people are indicted they manage to escape with the help of their political or money power or through connections. This should not happen with the present inquiry.

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