Three Union Sports Ministers, who held charge since 2004, had repeatedly warned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against the structure and working of Commonwealth Games Organising Committee and its chief Suresh Kalmadi, letters accessed by an RTI activist reveal.
While late Sunil Dutt had said that the Organising Committee should be headed by a “Government nominee” like Sports Minister, his successor Mani Shanker Aiyar had criticised it for “squandering” money and M.S. Gill had said that the Executive Committee of the OC “rarely” met and endorsed “post facto decisions taken in high centralised manner“.
Letters written by these Sports Ministers have been made public in an RTI reply to activist S.C. Agrawal.
In 2004, when the structure of the Organising Committee was to be finalised, the then Sports Minister Sunil Dutt had written to the Prime Minister saying he was surprised by the Indian Olympic Association resolution appointing its chief Suresh Kalmadi as Chairman of Organising Committee saying it was “at variance” with the decision of the GoM.
He had claimed that IOA was “aware” that GoM had agreed to appoint Sports Minister as OC Chairman for preparation of conduct and preparation of the Games.
Mr. Dutt had alleged that minutes of group of ministers meeting issued by Cabinet Secretariat do not reflect the decisions taken during the meeting on “various aspects of composition of Organising Committee“.
The notes made on the letter mention “PM has seen” and later an acknowledgement was also sent to Mr. Dutt by the Prime Minister.
His successor Mr. Aiyar, in his letters to the Prime Minister, had highlighted that the OC was “squandering” money by appointing consultants with cost of up to $ 5,000 per day and providing Rs. two crore farm house and monthly first class air ticket to Mike Hooper of Commonwealth Games Federation.
Mr. Aiyar highlighted that unlike 1982 Asian Games Special Organising Committee which had “powerful public-minded representatives” like Rajiv Gandhi, the present Organising Committee is “packed with yes men (and a few yes—women)“.
He said OC Chairman had “dictatorial powers” as there was “no one of influence to press for an alternative option“.
“Without a drastic overhaul of both the Executive Board and Organising Committee for the Commonwealth Games, I fear it will prove to be practically impossible for the Government to significantly address the excesses of Chairman Suresh Kalmadi and his cohorts,” Mr. Aiyar had warned in October 2007, three years ahead of the Games.