Kalmadi appointed OC chairman by NDA govt: Maken



New Delhi: With Suresh Kalmadi being at the centre of the controversy surrounding the Commonwealth Games scam, the Government on Tuesday sought to blame the previous NDA regime for his appointment as Organising Committee chairman and said that nothing could be done later.

Sports Minister Ajay Maken dragged the NDA government in the wake of reports that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had criticised the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) for making funds to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore available to Kalmadi and giving him decisive power for their utilisation during the CWG.

The reports, quoting the leaked CAG report which is expected to be tabled in Parliament soon, blamed the PMO for making Kalmadi the Chairman of the OC even though questions were raised by the then Sports Minister Sunil Dutt and some others in the Government.

Suggesting that the current PMO could do nothing regarding Kalmadi's appointment, Maken told reporters, "There were two options. Either to scrap the Commonwealth Games or to go with the host city contract, which was signed by the NDA regime in November 2003. There was no third option."

When pointed out that Dutt and another former Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar had questioned unfettered powers to Kalmadi, Maken said, "I agree. We all questioned these things. But they could not have done (anything).

"The option was, either we could have gone back to the Commonwealth Games (Federation for appointment of new OC) or we could have decided to scrap the Games. The other option was to go with the Host City contract signed during the NDA's regime. So we were left with no other 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, questioning 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 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 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.

Maken said the CAG report is not officially out and he does not know what exactly it says.

"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 (is) 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.

PTI