Gill says nothing to hide on CWG, BJP walks out
New Delhi: New Delhi: The government was ready for "any kind of inquiry" into preparations for the Commonwealth Games (CWG), Sports Minister MS Gill said in the Lok Sabha Tuesday as a furious BJP walked out of the house claiming he had dishonoured parliament with his comments on the right to information (RTI).
"We are ready to consider any kind of inquiry after
October 15. Our government will continue to be there after
October 15. Let the focus at present be on the sportspersons
when the games are not far off," Sports Minister M S Gill told
the House replying to a debate on the games.
"Nothing will be hidden or covered up," he said in his
hour-long reply which was repeatedly interrupted by Opposition
members, who continued to pose queries on allegations of
corruption and diversion of funds.
Dissatisfied with the reply of the Sports Minister, Leader
of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj led a noisy walk out of
members of BJP and its allies, who chanted "we want JPC" while
leaving the House.
Swaraj took offence to Gill`s remarks asking members to
take recourse to the RTI route to obtain details of the
expenditure for CWG projects.
Swaraj said Gill`s reference to the RTI queries was a
"disrespect" to the House and wondered if RTI was more
important than Parliament.
Gill had said the members could get all information
regarding expenses on creating infrastructure for the CWG
using the provisions of the RTI Act.
Stressing the point further, Gill said that the government is also of the view that ‘full public scrutiny ensures public confidence’.
The minister also said he had asked for a probe after a complaint from the Indian High Commission in London on alleged financial improprieties during last year`s Queen`s Baton Relay.
"I had asked my ministry to immediately ask the Enforcement Directorate to probe the matter," he said, responding to criticism on the delays in preparations for mega sporting event.
"You know that several officials have been suspended. Why do you think it has happened? It is due to pressure from my ministry."
Gill, who interspersed his speech with colloquial Punjabi, said he was ready to take MPs to visit the completed stadiums. "You will see how lavishly they have been constructed and their grandeur," he said, in an apparent justification for the cost overruns for the stadiums.
Referring to the defects in construction of stadia raised
by members during the debate, Gill said work was in progress
to rectify all of them and "all will be fine within a month."
He assured the House that he would conduct a tour of the
members to the stadia for them to inspect the construction
works and to assess for themselves the lavish infrastructure
put in place for the games.
Pitching for successful hosting of the CWG and not ruining
the event, Gill, taking the analogy of an Indian wedding,
said, "Now that the groom is waiting at the gates for exchange
of vows, should the bride break the relations at this hour."
He said India decided to host the CWG in 2003 when NDA was
in power and had signed an agreement for a three-way division
of responsibilities to organise the games among the Indian
Olympic Association (IOA) represented by the CWG Organising
Committee, Centre and the Delhi administration.
Gill also said that the organisation of the Commonwealth Games entailed multiple authorities unlike the 1982 Asian Games. "In a single unity of command and authority, those games (1982 Asiad) were pulled through."
However, the situation was different in the current Commonwealth Games. "(In) these games we have to go by what the Commonwealth Games Federation put on us," he said.
The minister said the agreement on the Games was signed in Jamaica between the federation and the Indian government, the Delhi government as well as the Indian Olympic Association.
"There is a three-way division. Unlike 1982, this is the main difference I have seen in organisation," he said.
Gill said the IOA was organising the games with the Centre
and the Delhi government as its "back-up", unlike the 1982
Asiad, when the government had taken up the responsibility of
hosting the event.
Amid questions over the functioning of the Organising
Committee headed by Kalmadi, the sports minister said it was
the set up by the International Olympic Association.
"According to the agreement, the IOA is responsible for
arranging the games and on February 10, 2005, an Organising
Committee was registered with 484 members," he said.
"The broad picture is the Government of India will
construct the stadia and the Organising Committee will conduct
the event," he added.
"CWG is not only of the IOA, it belongs to all citizens of
this country," he said.