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London Olympics: Show Kalmadi the door

By Sushmita Dutta | Last Updated: Sunday, July 15, 2012 - 22:26
Sushmita Dutta
Sushi's Musings

Recently I was jolted out of the tranquil surroundings while travelling by the Metro. The person sitting right next to me was murmuring on the phone. What he said took me by surprise. The voice said—“Sir ji please mera tender pass karwa do baki jo bhee hoga mil batkar dekh lenge.” <i>(Please pass my tender and we will share the profit.)</i>

As my metro surged forward I saw the Commonwealth Games Village and the vacant high-rise apartments which were constructed for the comfortable stay of the sportspersons during the CWG (2010) which was held in the capital city of India. Capital city, capital waste and capital shame. As the structures flashed before my eyes, my brain rummaged through the bitter taste that the Commonwealth Games had left in the mind of every Indian.

The face I remembered vividly was that of the sacked CWG Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi, accused in a games-related graft case. Beijing had hosted the Summer Olympics four years earlier in 2008. Through the mega event, China had stamped its authority all over the world. Commonwealth Games was our same moment. But what should have been a moment of pride for the entire nation, turned out to be a series of shameful moments.

We made a huge mockery of ourselves in front of the international media. Commonwealth Games had just turned into a corrupt circus.

<i>(Coming back to the memories in the metro)</i> Suresh Kalmadi and the words of the person whispering on phone actually had a connection – that is, getting mutually benefited by the corruption undertaken by a group of people, and if at all they are caught, then save each other so that none of them get exposed.

This is also a big joke on the institutions of law and justice in our country. Suresh Kalmadi was granted permission to attend the 2012 London Olympics by the Delhi High Court. According to media reports, the Special CBI judge had agreed to grant his plea of letting him visit London, while depositing a bond of Rs 10 lakhs and a surety of the same amount.

Alas! How can a sacked CWG Organising Committee chairman be permitted to attend the London Olympics? Although charges framed on Kalmadi have not yet been proved, still, there is no smoke without fire…What will be India’s impression in the rest of the world?

Is Kalmadi being given a safety belt by someone as a way out of the filthy situation he has put himself in? Are the people who had minted their pockets hot on the job of pulling him out before he sucks everyone into the mud?

Has the Indian government even thought once how laughable we are going to turn? India is sending a person to London Olympics who has been convicted of gross corruption and has just spent nine months in the Tihar Jail and who is out on bail (in relation to the Commonwealth fiasco)! Isn’t there anyone else in this huge nation who could go and represent India at the London Games?

Though Kalmadi has refuted all the allegations and has staunchly said that he is clean and that the Sports Ministry has been trying to vilify him and his image, the statistics of CWG 2010 seem to suggest a completely different set of picture.

Very innocently he had even said “No charge has been proven against me; how can I be called corrupt?”

So true Mr Kalmadi, the initial budget of the CWG 2010 (when we were just awarded the coveted event) as estimated by the Indian Olympic Association in 2003, was Rs 1620 crores. In a span of seven years, the amount skyrocketed and broke the ceiling. It reached a staggering Rs 11,500 crore. Mr Kalmadi, would you like to explain what went wrong here?

But this was just the tip of the iceberg. With every passing day, scams of the weirdest kinds came to light. It resembled Nero’s fiddle-playing act while Rome was burning. While the country was going through its most shameful period, Kalmadi and his men were stuffing their pockets with wads and wads of currency.

If Kalmadi finds his ticket to London, the court of law should also be held accountable. The court should have given a thought about how India’s image will take a beating if he happens to be a part of the Indian contingent. There should be stringent laws which prevent people with corruption charges from getting bail and permission to attend such coveted international events so easily. Once a politician is released on bail, has he ever turned back in? You know the answer.

Traditionally in our country, the field of sports has been the playground of politicians who have held the highest posts in all kinds of sports bodies. The only thing that drives these people is the money involved. It is because of these people that India has not been able to develop world-class infrastructure to nurture Indian talent. Everyone is so busy minting money that it is hardly their business to even think about the career of the sportspersons or about the fame of the country and least about their own duty. Someone please step forward and overhaul the system before it has been squeezed dry.

The Sports Ministry, however, has taken cognisance of the Kalmadi issue and has written a complaint regarding it to the Indian Olympic Association. The visit of Suresh Kalmadi, who is facing corruption charges, to London for the Olympic Games will “defy the ‘Fundamental Principles of Olympism’ as enshrined in the Olympic Charter”, said the Union Ministry’s letter to the IOA.

The sportspersons must also realise that if they have to fulfill their dreams and rise to the pinnacle along with their counterparts from other countries, this kind of system has to be done away with. All sportspersons need to come together and launch a nationwide movement. This is their need, their need to survive. A protest done by the players at the top post, who will not hanker after money but hanker after gold, (gold medals in the sporting arenas, I mean), can really make a difference.

A suspended politician and tainted bureaucrat is just the wrong face India would like to show to the world. Rein Kalmadi in before the damage is done and he gets away with such a stupendous level of corruption and public money. Can someone please show Suresh Kalmadi the door please?

First Published: Sunday, July 15, 2012 - 22:26

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