Kalmadi's fall from grace in his own city

Kalmadi's fall from grace in his own city

The ransacking of Kalmadi's cabin in the Congress Bhavan by his own party men after his arrest in the Commonwealth Games scam and subsequent suspension last night, symbolised the fall from grace of one of the most high profile MPs, who represented the city thrice in the Lok Sabha, apart from serving four Rajya Sabha terms in the last three decades.

"It was a spontaneous reaction of Congress workers in the city staging a protest against a corrupt person suspended by the party which has zero tolerance for corruption in public life," said MLC Mohan Joshi, a prominent city Congress leader.

Joshi has been locked in a long political rivalry with Kalmadi after failing to get a party ticket to contest the Lok Sabha seat in 2004 and 2009. Opposition parties including the BJP, Shiv Sena and MNS too staged protest demonstrations condemning Kalmadi for "tarnishing" the image of Pune which he represented in the Parliament.

"Suresh Kalmadi, resign. We are ashamed of you", said a hoarding displayed by BJP corporators demanding Kalmadi's resignation as MP.

Although the anti-Kalmadi elements geared up to fill in the vacuum created by his exit from civic politics over which he had a powerful grip, a division among the ranks seemed imminent with Kalmadi loyalists, though confused, holding their ground with a feeble defence of their leader in the dock.

"He should not be held guilty till proved so in the investigations," said city Congress president and Kalmadi's close lieutenant Abhay Chhajed, making it clear he had "accepted" the high command's decision to suspend Kalmadi.

The development could lead to a large number of Kalmadi loyalists crossing over to NCP soon, party sources said.