Faced with mounting pressure to drop his Olympic trip to London, a defiant Suresh Kalmadi on Saturday hit back at Ajay Maken, accusing the Sports Minister of carrying out a vilification campaign against him and called for his resignation.
Mr. Kalmadi, who was allowed by a Delhi court to travel to London for the Olympics, said it was unbecoming of Mr. Maken to react in such a way against the court’s decision and requested the Prime Minister to ask for his resignation.
“I was quite shocked and dismayed to read Ajay Maken’s reaction to the Honorable Court’s decision to grant me permission to visit London for the forthcoming Olympic Games.
In view of Mr Maken going against the court decision, which is quite unbecoming of a sports minister I request our prime minister to ask for Mr Maken’s resignation for making such comments and statements,” Mr. Kalmadi said at a press conference.
Mr. Kalmadi accused Mr. Maken of interfering in the functioning of Sports Federations and causing “groupism” which will ultimately affect the performance of sportspersons in the Olympics.
“Mr. Maken threatening Indian Olympic Association (IOA) that he would try to ensure that I was not part of the Indian delegation, shows lack of knowledge about the functioning of autonomous sports bodies.
“I am attending the IAF meeting coinciding with the London Olympics as a Council Member of the International Association of Athletic Federation (IAAF) and president of Asian Athletic Association. I don’t need any support from the Sports Ministry,” said Mr. Kalmadi, who is currently on bail after spending nearly a year in Tihar jail following the CWG scandal.
“Therefore, the union sports minister’s charges that my participation in Olympics will kill the basic spirit of Olympics, shows Mr Maken’s total disregard to the spirit of the games,” he added.
Mr. Kalmadi said that he was innocent till proven guilty and it was unfair for people to raise questions about his travel to London on the invitation of international athletics body.
“All said and done, Mr Maken seems to forget that it was in my tenure as IOA president that India bagged maximum number of medals in both the Commonwealth and Asian Games. The Commonwealth Games Federation had stated in its report that the Delhi Commonwealth Games was the best games ever.
“I have been elected unanimously to the IOA three times, it shows the faith of the sports body. As per law I am innocent till found guilty. In my bail application it has been clearly stated in the Honorable High Court that no financial trail has been proved against me. No allegation of corruption has been proved,” insisted Kalmadi.
Mr. Kalmadi said Mr. Maken’s sustained interference in the functioning of the National Sports Federation was creating problems in the smooth functioning of sports in the country, and causing groupism which will ultimately affect the performance of sports persons in Olympics.
“At a time when Indian sports is on the upsurge due to the combined efforts of National Sports Federations, coaches, sportspersons any interference by the sports ministry in the training programmes of sportspersons will only result in adversely affecting the performance of our participants in the Games.
“I strongly feel that this vilification campaign raised by Maken is meant to cause a split between officials and Indian players participating in the forthcoming London Olympics.
“This is the first time India stands a good chance of securing maximum honours and any attempt to sow seeds of doubts in the players mind at this stage is uncalled for,” said Mr. Kalmadi.
“Maken seems to forget that I have been granted the court’s permission to visit London for the Games from July 28 to August 13, at the invitation from IAAF Council.”