Government blames NDA for Kalmadi’s appointment

August 2nd, 2011 - 9:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) Amid questions about the role of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in allowing tainted Suresh Kalmadi to capture the reins of the Organising Committee for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the government Tuesday put the onus for his appointment on the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.

Making a statement in the Lok Sabha, Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Ajay Maken said the NDA government had in 2003 begun the process which ultimately led to the appointment of Kalmadi as chairman of the Organising Committee (OC).

Maken, who also talked to reporters later, indicated that the current PMO could do nothing regarding Kalmadi’s appointment.

“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,” he said.

In his statement, Maken said there was little the Congress-led government — formed a year after the NDA signed the bid document with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) — could have done to stop Kalmadi’s appointment.

Maken’s statement came amid a leaked CAG report blaming the PMO for overlooking the objections raised by successive sports ministers against Kalmadi’s appointment.

“The original bid document had provided for a ‘government appointee’ as the chairman of the OC with the vice chairman being the IOA (Indian Olympics Association) president (Kalmadi). However, the bid document was inexplicably changed to delete the words ‘government appointee’ in respect of the chairman,” Maken told the Lok Sabha.

The ‘legally obligatory’ contact was signed with the CGF in November 2003 by Kalmadi, the then city lieutenant governor and the sports secretary, he said.

“The contract, to which the government of India became a signatory in 2003, stipulated that the conduct of the Games will be entrusted to the Commonwealth Games Association of the host country, which in our case was the IOA,” he said.

The contract also stipulated that an Organising Committee (OC) having a legal status will be formed and which “shall be jointly responsible with the CGA for all the commitments including financial commitments in regard to the organisation and staging of the Games”.

Maken said that the “empowered” IOA in its meeting held Nov 1, 2004 elected Kalmadi as OC chairman and authorised him to finalise the panel in consultation with the other IOA members.

It authorised Kalmadi to deal with the government of India and the city government regarding the Commonwealth Games.

Maken added the government was aware of the concerns over the “irregularities and wrongdoings” during the Games, though the mega event was held successfully.

While the Congress chose not to comment on the leaked Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, the BJP accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of ignoring words of caution of three sports ministers of his own government.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley said three sports ministers of UPA — Sunil Dutt, Mani Shankar Aiyar and M.S. Gill — tried to draw the prime minister’s attention to wide powers with Kalmadi, but he ignored it.

“Perhaps this was also a case of PM’s office maintaining an arm’s distance,” he said, alluding to a note from private secretary to the prime minister in relation to the 2G spectrum allocation.

Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed did not comment on the leaked CAG report.

“The report is not yet official. The minister (Maken) tried to give reply but was unfortunately disrupted… Let the government come with a detailed reply,” he said.

But he criticised the opposition for disrupting proceedings of the two houses, saying that they were doing it when the government was ready to give reply to issues being raised by them.

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