New Delhi: Stung by the CAG criticism of PMO, Government has hit back seeking to shift the blame on the NDA government for the appointment of Suresh Kalmadi as Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.
Making a statement in the Lok Sabha first and outside later on the leaked report of the CAG report, Sports Minister Ajay Maken said 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.
Maken`s blame game was triggered by the contents of the leaked CAG report which is said to have faulted the Prime Minister`s Office for letting Kalmadi capture the Organising Committee and control of say over the spending of over Rs.2,000 crore during the games.
Suggesting that the current PMO could do nothing regarding PMO`s appointment, he told reporters, "There were two options-either to scrap the Commonwealth Games or to go with the host city contract, which signed by the NDA regime in November, 20043. There was no third option."
Maken said the Games management protocol clearly said that the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) shall form the Organising Committee.
"When it (protocol) gave all powers to the IOA to form the OC, then there was no other option. Second, the Host City contract...should have been signed by the city government, Delhi government in this case. It should have been passed by the city Cabinet, Delhi Cabinet in this case," he said and questioned why it was passed by the Union Cabinet.
The Minister also questioned why the contract was cleared by the Union Cabinet in the NDA government and signed by the then Sports Secretary.
"By the Central government signing at that time, they left all doors closed for us. Because once it was signed by the Union government, it was binding on the Union government which could not have gone back (on it)," Maken said.
He said all Opposition parties "who are making hue and cry now" were part of the General Assembly of the IOA which elected Suresh Kalmadi as the chairman of the Organising Committee.
At that time, the Minister said, the General Assembly of the IOA was constituted by Vijay Kumar Malhotra, Tarlochan Singh, S S Dhinsa, perhaps Chautala.
"So all Opposition parties who are making hue and cry now, they were part of that... they were members of the General Assembly on November 1, 2004 even before Suresh Kalmadi was appointed as chairman of OC by the Government of India," the Minister said.
"The IOA General Assembly had passed and recommended that Suresh Kalmadi should be appointed the OC chairman by all these people cutting across party lines. So, I think, the BJP or the NDA should first look at their own record. It was decided during their time," he said.
The minister said the NDA government`s decision had led to the Central government committing to all financial instructural obligations vis-a-vis the Games.
"By one stroke, it took away from the Government of India any residual, amending or discretionary powers that could have been exercised in emergent situations to salving any wrong doings," he said.
Maken alleged that the NDA government had also not scrutinised and thoroughly verified the contract and any viable alternative to the provisions were neither explored or suggested.
He maintained that by not making the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi a signatory to the contract, the Government of India directly stepped into provide the letter of support for the bid to host the CWG 2010 in Delhi and to meet the deficit between revenue and expenditure fully without any budgetary constraint.
The Minister said the CAG report is not officially out and he did not know what its contents are.
"...I am sure all these things would be debated in the PAC (Public Accounts Committee). After all, the PAC is the forum where all these things have to be debated. Once we are going to bring all these things to the notice of the PAC, I think everyone will understand and this is something which the matter on record," he said.
"Let Mr Verma (the then Sports Minister Vikram Verma) come and say on record why the Host City contract was signed by the Union Government at that time...cleared by the Union Cabinet at that time. Why the state government was not allowed at that time," the Minister said.