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'Kalmadi is running a one-man show'

By Renu Mittal
August 04, 2010 02:43 IST
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As charges of corruption against Suresh Kalmadi and the Common Wealth organizing committee mount, a senior Union minister admitted there was no co-ordination between the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry, the Centre and the All-India Congress Committee as many of the issues which can be clarified -- or which have a valid explanation-- are not being given to the media by the AICC which has a daily briefing.

Instead, the AICC made it clear that it was neither their brief nor their intention to defend Suresh Kalmadi since he is the chairman of the organising committee by virtue of heading the Indian Olympic Association and not because he is a Congress MP. The AICC spokesman agreed that the expenditure being incurred on the games was excessive and said it is for Kalmadi to do the explanation.

The Commonwealth buzz has reached Parliament with the Bahujan Samaj Party forcing three adjournments in the Rajya Sabha over reports that the Planning Commission gave permission for funds meant for the scheduled castes and tribes to be diverted for the Games. This came out in response to an RTI explanation though the actual facts are that since Delhi has no concentrated SC-ST areas, the funds are put together and collectively released and no special funds are earmarked.

This explanation was later given by the parliamentary affairs ministry, but long after the Opposition had made it a screaming
issue asking that a joint parliamentary committee be set up to look into the "loot" going on in the name of the games.

Suresh Kalmadi has also had a run-in with his own government.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna virtually accused Kalmadi of peddling forged documents referring to the e-mail released by Kalmadi which he says came from the Indian High Commission in London. Kalmadi, while calling an emergency meeting of the organizing committee on August 5, has constituted a three-member committee to probe the issue raised by Krishna.

The Enforcement Directorate is also doing its own investigation into the companies used by Kalmadi and the charges that a number of firms were paid huge amounts of money with no clear tender process.

Sources say part of the problem is that Kalmadi is running a one-man show, unwilling to share the work with others and keeping all key issues close to his chest, while the large number of committees which have been appointed are more on paper and less on the ground as they are not consulted while taking decisions.

With large parts of New Delhi still dug up, incomplete and shoddy work on full display and both the media and political parties wanting to fix responsibility for the Commonwealth fund wastage and what is being called the "colossal bungling", Kalmadi will have to spend the next two months, not only trying to finish the work, but also to answer his own party.

Interestingly, the PMO which should have been monitoring the entire exercise, has just woken up with the Cabinet secretary now on the rounds to the various stadia, taking stock of the situation and the work which is still underway.

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi
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