PM to take political leaders to see Games venues
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to ask leaders of other political parties to accompany him to visit the Commonwealth Games venues as he begins monitoring preparations with just a little over a month to go for the mega event that has come under cloud and adverse media publicity nationally and internationally in recent weeks.
"The prime minister has said the Games will be a matter of national pride. He will seek the cooperation of leaders of political parties and other sectors for the Games. An all-party meet is also under consideration," a senior official told IANS.
According to the official, Manmohan Singh will be actively involved with the Commonwealth Games affairs after the parliament session which ends next week. "He considers the CWG not only as a sports event but also as an important diplomatic event."
The official said the prime minister wants to carry along various political parties, despite the spate of negative reporting amid allegations of corruption related to the the CWG.
"Seek cooperation for the Games and ensure investigation after the event" will be the prime minister`s line, the official said.
Official sources said Manmohan Singh will begin visiting the venues next week. He is likely to invite United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chief Sonia Gandhi and Opposition leaders, including LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, and other party leaders to some of the visits, official sources said.
In his Independence Day address from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort, Manmohan Singh had said: "The Commonwealth Games will be a proud moment for the whole country and especially for Delhi. I am convinced that all our countrymen will treat the Games as a national festival and will leave no stone unturned to make them a success."
"The successful organisations of the Games would be another signal to the world that India is rapidly marching ahead with confidence," he said.
On Thursday, Sonia Gandhi, who is also Congress president, told party parliamentarians that "it was a matter of national pride" that the Games are to be held here. Saying the "Games should not be viewed as an issue of any particular party or individual", she added that efforts should be made to hold the Games successfully.
Nirmala Sitharaman, spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), shared the view that the Games involved the country`s prestige. "We also feel that the Games are of importance, not just nationally but internationally," Sitharaman told IANS.
"That is why we have said the Games should be conducted successfully. Despite the day-and- night expose of corruption in the Games preparations and reports of siphoning off money, we have suggested the judicial inquiry and other probes may be conducted soon after the completion of the Games," Sitharaman said.
The Congress will also offer all help for the conduct of the Games, an office-bearer of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) said. "At last, the allegations will die down and the Games will triumph. There were similar allegations when we built flyovers for the Asian Games in 1982".
"You will see the entire government and the UPA coming together for the Games. Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and all other leaders will join. The Congress will not be partisan when it comes to national sports," he claimed.
"Remember, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi went to Karachi in 2004 and cheered along with BJP leader Arun Jaitley for the Indian cricket team. Then our rival NDA (National Democratic Alliance) was ruling," he recalled.
The 19th Commonwealth Games -- India`s biggest sporting event after the 1982 Asian Games -- will be held here from Oct 3 to 14. Nearly 8,000 sportspersons from 71 countries and territories will participate.
Allegations of corruption and delays as well as various infrastructure problems have cast a shadow on the preparations, forcing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene.
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