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CWG: L'Affaire Kalmadi

While the embattled government is facing the heat over price-rise, the vicious cycle of increasing interest rates and declining growth, not to mention the variou scams it is embroiled in, the opposition has got a fresh salvo to fire in the form of a a leaked CAG report which apparently cites letters by former Sports Ministers Sunil Dutt and Mani Shankar Aiyar and faults the Prime Minister's Office [PMO] for ignoring warnings on the appointment of Suresh Kalmadi as the Commonwealth Games [CWG] Organising Committee [OC] Chief.

The report is expected to be tabled in the house soon.

The CAG directly holds the PMO responsible of giving Suresh Kalmadi a free hand in running the 2010 CWG OC and spending 2000 crores of taxpayers’ money.

Kalmadi is charged with having disbursed the money in an unfair manner to the contractors and also influencing the execution of various projects related to the Games since they were all approved by his panel.

Meanwhile, the sports minister Ajay Maken came up with what the Prime Minister perhaps had earlier alluded to as "skeletons in the opposition's cupboard"  with the charge that the previous NDA government had signed the Host City contract, instead of the Delhi government and that was the source of all the problems that followed later.

He also said that all opposition parties "who are making a hue and cry now" were part of the General Assembly of the IOA which elected Suresh Kalmadi as the chairman of the Organising Committee.

It is very clear from the CAG report, which even cites the declaration made by Kalmadi in his capacity as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chief to the Commonwealth Games Federation in 2003, that he was only supposed to be the vice-chairman of the OC.

The bid submitted by the IOA to the CWG Federation clearly specified that the executive board of the OC would be headed by a chairman nominated by the government. This is the way it had been even in the previous CWG which were held in Melbourne, where it was the government of Australia which was in charge.

It is on record in Mr Sunil Dutt's letter quoted by the CAG that a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by the PM Manmohan Singh decided to appoint the Union Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs as the head of the OC on October 25, 2004.

Even Mr Ajay Maken's suo moto statement in the Lok Sabha today acknowledges:

'The original Bid Document had provided for a “Government Appointee” as the Chairman of the Executive Board of the Organizing Committee (OC), with the Vice Chairman being the IOA President. However, the bid document was inexplicably changed to delete the words “Government Appointee” in respect of the Chairman'


And that is where things get blurry as somehow Mr Suresh Kalmadi managed to convince PM Manmohan Singh later in the same year to have him as the Chairman, despite persistent opposition from the then Sports Ministers Sunil Dutt who should have been the chairman, as mentioned in Mr Dutt's letter to the PM.

Mani Shankar Aiyar, the sports minister to follow on Mr Sunil Dutt's death, had always made his opposition to Mr Kalmadi more than clear on more than one occasion.

 

Rahul Mehta, Supreme Court lawyer, dissects the issue on his Twitter timeline:

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