Ritesh K Srivastava
The hullabaloo over the mismanagement of Commonwealth Games is increasing with every passing day and the whole nation seems to be demanding the resignation of IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi. But the seasoned politician appears to be unperturbed by the allegations of corruption levelled against the Organising Committee (OC) headed by him and is determined to stay-on till the storm settles.
Kalmadi’s reluctance in quitting as OC chief, despite tremendous pressure, is easily understandable since he would not want the spotlight to fade away from him, when the Delhi Games - his baby - start in October.
Kalmadi has been the longest serving sports administrator in our country and the Commonwealth Games are surely the defining moment of his career as a sports administrator. Kalmadi, the three times MP from Pune, is known more for sports than for taking up political issues grappling either his constituency, his state or the nation.
The man surely has a lot at stake at the moment and knows that if he walks away at this juncture, he would lose all the pride and adulation that would come if CWG are a success.
The Congress government is also unwilling to change horses as of now, keeping in mind the fact that the events are just a month away and a lot still needs to be done. Albeit, it has appointed Cabinet Secretary KM Chandreshekhar to ‘oversee’ the preparations for the Delhi Games, apparently buckling under pressure.
Ironically, CWG 2010, which ought to be the stepping stone for the future of sports in India, has, in fact, turned out to be a sordid tale of blatant corruption and shameless lies.
It was believed that success of CWG will change the world’s perception about India’s capability to hold major international tournaments, but the reports of rampant corruption by the OC has badly tarnished India’s reputation even before the start of the events.
The siphoning off of the hundreds of crores of tax payers’ money by the members of the OC and the various agencies involved in the preparation for the Games has only exposed the neck-deep corruption that ails our political system.
So, in view of the muck coming out of the CWG saga, should not Kalmadi take the blame for the alleged wrong doings of the OC headed by him and quit on moral grounds?
Why is the government of India hesitant in sacking him and appointing an oversight panel to look after the preparations of the event as demanded by many parties?
The question here is pertinent since Kalmadi has lost all moral ground to continue as OC chief after his two top officials Jaychandran and TS Darbari were sacked over corruption allegations and the third, Anil Khanna, the OC treasurer, stepped down voluntarily.
CAG’s interim report has pointed to some discrepancies in the manner in which Organising Committee purchased equipment, awarded contracts for broadcasting rights and sponsorship deals to foreign firms, making clear their dishonesty.
The CAG has also blamed the Games Organising Committee for awarding the sponsorship deal to Melbourne-based Sports Marketing and Management (SMAM) at a throwaway price.
The issue has snowballed into a major political controversy and a united opposition is now gunning for Kalmadi’s head for bringing disgrace to the nation and has called for a full-fledged investigation into the matter.
We certainly need a thorough investigation by a competent authority to bring out the truth. We also need to know if Kalmadi was really aware of the bungling or a party to the underhand dealings of the high-profile members of the OC.
This becomes important in light of the fact that those accused in the CW Games mess were all Kalmadi`s hand-picked men. With so many scams unearthed in the recent past, it is hard to believe that several OC officials kept plundering the tax payers’ money and didn’t give a damn about the seriousness of the events and that too without taking into confidence their boss Kalmadi.
The onus clearly lies on him since he has been the country’s point-man for CWG preparations. As the head of the CWG OC, it was his job to ensure that things fall in right place, so he cannot just shy away from taking the blame for alleged wrong doings. He must step down and come out clean to prove that he got no share of the booty.
However, as the drama unfolded what was more shocking was to see the stoic silence maintained by the Congress party and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the CWG mess. It seems that our honourable Prime Minister has made it a habit of keeping mum over controversial issues.
The government should have acted earlier and the Prime Minister should have made a statement on the matter clearing doubts about his government‘s intentions. Had this been done, it would have saved the government from the embarrassment stemming out of Oppositions’ allegations of shielding corrupt officials.
The Congress high command sacked one of its key ministers, Shashi Tharoor, after his name figured in the IPL scam. However, the party is mum on Kalmadi’s issue.
Is it because of fear that sacking its own MP Kalmadi will lead to more skeletons tumbling out and open a can of worms for the party?
Whichever way you look at it, we all want the Delhi Games to be a super success and add more glory to the country’s name but in the process, the culprits should not be spared for plundering the wealth of nation for their selfish pleasure.