Oppn targets PM, Sonia over Kalmadi`s appointment
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Last Updated: Tuesday, August 09, 2011, 23:52
New Delhi: Armed with CAG report, Opposition on Tuesday targeted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over appointment of Suresh Kalmadi as CWG Organising Committee chief and demanded in Parliament that heads should roll besides seeking a Supreme Court-monitored CBI probe to unravel the truth.

The BJP also sought to rope in UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, saying Suresh Kalmadi had claimed to have been appointed as Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) Chairman after a "series of meetings" with her.

During a spirited debate in both Houses of Parliament, the Opposition also attacked P Chidambaram, the then Finance Minister, saying he sanctioned funds despite objections.

Sports Minister Ajay Maken was accused of engaging in "monumental deception" by the Opposition parties which were unsparing on Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as well.

The Congress defended the government, with its members saying that the NDA government had handed over all rights to the CWG Games management under the Host City Contract and no legal action could be taken as it could be challenged only in the British courts. They also attacked the CAG.

"The matter goes to the Prime Minister's Office... The file finally goes to the honourable Prime Minister," said Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley while participating in the debate on Maken's statement of August 2.

Citing documents available with him, he said the then Sports Minister Sunil Dutt and every officer of the PMO were against Kalmadi being made the OC chief.

"On December 6,2004, the Prime Minister overruled each one of them and issued an order appointing Kalmadi as the OC Chairman and chief of the Executive Board," he said.

Jaitley said Dutt had, in fact, complained to the Prime Minister that it was decided that he would be the OC Chief but "minutes were tampered with and the decision to make him the Chairman was tampered with". After Singh appointed Kalmadi, the Group of Ministers (GoM) also toed the same line, he said.

"The entire Ministry of Sports, the entire bureaucracy of the PMO says 'this (Kalmadi appointment) can't be done'. The Prime Minister overrules each one of them," Jaitley said.

In the Lok Sabha, BJP's Yashwant Sinha accused Singh of inaction against Kalmadi despite complaints by then sports minister Mani Shankar Aiyer and Dutt.

He insisted that nothing prevented the government from sacking Kalmadi, who anyway was removed from the OC after the Games were over last October.

Responding to the Congress argument that Kalmadi had been appointed by NDA government, Sinha took a dig at the ruling party for disowning the Congress MP after he was imprisoned.

"Who is Suresh Kalmadi? Who gave Kalmadi ticket to contest elections? Who brought him to the Lok Sabha? And now after Kalmadi has landed in Tihar Jail, he is being projected as a BJP man," he said.

Sinha triggered pandemonium by making certain remarks against Maken in relation to former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda, who is jail undergoing trial in a corruption case.

Koda, who is a member of Lok Sabha, was present in the House.

Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) and Manish Tewari (Cong) also spoke in Lok Sabha. In Rajya Sabha, Rashid Alvi (Cong), D Raja (CPI), Satish Mishra (BSP), Prakash Javadekar (BJP) and Mohan Singh (SP) spoke.

The debate remained inconclusive in both Houses as they were adjourned prematurely after uproar by BJP members, protesting police action on its youth wing workers here.

Seeking to rope in Sonia Gandhi, Sinha quoted a letter written by PM's Principal Secretary T K A Nair to contend that OC was registered as a society in February 2005 with Kalmadi as head after "series of discussions" with the PMO, UPA chairperson and the GoM.

In the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley also made similar remarks and said that Kalmadi had highlighted Gandhi's role in his appointment while complaining about interference by the Sports Ministry.

When Jaitley made these remarks, his party colleagues resorted to slogan-shouting using certain words against Gandhi. This triggered an uproar with the Congress members objecting to the comments, leading to a brief adjournment.

Later, Javadekar said, "Today it has become clear that Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister were the masters of Kalmadi."

Taking on Home Minister P Chidambaram, Sinha cited a media report which quoted Aiyer as having said that his objections to release funds to OC without utilisation certificate for the earlier amounts were overruled by him in the capacity of Finance Minister.

Rejecting the government's argument that it could not do anything to Kalmadi after he had been appointed OC Chairman, Sinha said there was nothing in the contract that could have prevented the government from taking action against him.

Demanding that all documents and files in this regard be brought before the House, Jaitley said while the effort was to stop the buck at Kalmadi, responsibility lies both with the Central and statement governments. "....none of them should be spared."

He also said if "heads are to roll", heads of the state (Delhi) government and the Centre must also roll.

Javadekar demanded a Supreme Court-monitored CBI probe into the issue to unravel the truth.


First Published: Tuesday, August 09, 2011, 12:38

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