Aiyar slams Commonwealth Games, Kalmadi calls him anti-national (Roundup)

July 27th, 2010 - 11:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Mani Shankar Aiyar New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar Tuesday let off a volley of criticism against the upcoming Commonwealth Games. Terming the hype over it “sickening”, he said he would be happy if the Games are “spoilt”, with just two months to go for the showpiece event.
While the Congress party distanced itself from his comments, games organising committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi blasted him, calling Aiyar “anti-national.

Aiyar caused a stir in the morning by telling reporters outside parliament that he would be “unhappy” if the Games are a success. Speaking at another event, he wondered why 150 condom vending machines are being installed at Games venue, asking: “What Games are these people coming to play?”

“What is the priority - holding an international mega sporting event or providing better sport facilities? It is distorted priority,” Aiyar said, on the sidelines of a press conference.

“The hype over the Commonwealth Games is sickening,” he added.

Aiyar, a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, said that despite having the largest youth population, the country cannot become a sporting nation. “Rather than spending over Rs.30,000 crore on CWG, if we would have given the same amount for providing better sporting facilities, we could have been like China in five years.”

The Congress leader continued in the same vein: “While it took 25 years for the government to announce compensation of Rs.1,500 crore for the Bhopal gas tragedy victims, it has given Rs.1,620 crore to Suresh Kalmadi for the Games over a period of time.”

He criticised the installation of condom machines in the Games village and across the city for the Oct 3-14 event.

Earlier, outside parliament, Aiyar told reporters: “Personally, I will be unhappy if the Commonwealth Games are successful.”

“I am very happy with the rains, firstly because it will ensure a good agriculture for the country and secondly because it will ensure that the Commonwealth Games are spoilt. If the Games are successful, they will further organise Asian Games and other events… I will be happy if the Games are spoilt,” he said.

Kalmadi, a Congress leader himself, labelled Aiyar “anti national” and added that India could never have hosted the Games if Aiyar had continued as sports minister.

“The Games are possible only because M.S. Gill is sports minister. Had Mani Shankar Aiyar continued to be sports minister, the Games would not have happened at all. Gill has done a remarkable job since he has taken over,” Kalmadi said during the inauguration of the remodelled Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Kalmadi later told reporters: “He (Aiyar) is anti-national. When everyone is looking forward to the Commonwealth Games, he is going around wishing the Games are spoilt.”

Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed distanced the party from Aiyar’s remarks.

“I don’t know in what context he (Aiyar) has said this. Since the games are being held in India, we hope they are successful,” Ahmed said.

A senior Congress leader told IANS on condition of anonymity: “With the games round the corner, obviously the party will appreciate restraint even from those who are voluble on a range of issues.”

Another party leader said Aiyar’s was wrong about the Games expenditure as most of money had been spent in upgrading Delhi’s infrastructure, which will benefit the people.

Congress leader K.P. Singh Deo refused to comment on Aiyar’s remarks.

“I have not heard what he said. It is his personal view,” he said.

“Whenever India has organised such events, it has organised them well. The Asian Games in 1982 were organised in 21 months and gave a boost to sports in the country,” Deo told IANS.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on the other hand, said it would raise Commonwealth Games project delays in parliament

“We will raise the issue of the delays in preparation for the Commonwealth Games in parliament,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters.

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