The role of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in the handling of affairs relating to the Commonwealth Games 2010 has come under cloud with the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) 'charging' the PMO with appointing Suresh Kalmadi as Chairman, Organising Committee, in 2004 despite "serious objections" from various quarters.
The CAG report not only indicts the Delhi Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, of irregularities, favouritism and bias in the award of contracts and appointment of consultants, but also virtually "accuses" the PMO of brushing aside all objections to appoint Mr. Kalmadi at the helm of affairs of the mega sporting event indicating the kind of stranglehold the suspended Congress MP possessed at that point of time.
The CAG report also accuses Mr. Kalmadi of altering the "bid documents" to change the structure of the Organising Committee at a later date.
"Despite serious objections from the former Sports and Youth Affairs Minister and late Sunil Dutt, Mr. Kalmadi was appointed as the OC chairman, based on a PMO recommendation of 2004. This decision facilitated the conversion of the originally envisaged Government-owned OC into a body outside the Governmental control, without commensurate accountability to Government and concomitant controls to ensure propriety and transparency (despite full financial guarantee and funding from Government),’’ the CAG states.
The CAG states that although the bid document of May 2003 envisaged the OC as a Government-owned registered society, with the Chairman of the OC Executive Board (EB) being a government appointee, and the IOA President being only the EB vice-chairman, the OC was ultimately set up in February 2005 as a non-Government registered society, with Mr. Kalmadi as the Chairman of the OC EB. "This change was orchestrated through a sequence of events, commencing with a document titled as an "updated bid" of December 2003 (which had no legal sanctity or relevance), indicating a changed structure. This 'updated bid' dated December 2003 surfaced only in September 2004, about16 months after the IOA made its bid and 10 months after that bid had already been declared successful!"
Further exposing the strong nexus Mr. Kalmadi had in the corridors of power, the report said: "Attempts in 2007 by the Sports and Youth Affairs Minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar and late Secretary, Sports, S.K. Arora with the PMO, the Group of Ministers (GoM) and the Cabinet Secretariat, highlighting the ineffective position of Sports and Youth Affairs Ministry in exercising control over the OC, met with strong resistance from the Chairman, OC, and were hence tendered unfruitful."
GoM decision not implemented
In fact, it notes that Sunil Dutt had written to the Prime Minister on November 14, 2004 expressing "surprise" at the resolution passed by the IOA appointing Mr. Kalmadi as chairman of the OC. “This was at variance with the decisions taken in the GoM meeting of October 25, 2004,’’ it stated.
Dutt also stated that the minutes of the GoM meeting, as issued by the Cabinet Secretariat and received in his office on November 10, 2004, did not reflect the decisions taken in the meeting regarding various aspects of the Composition of the OC. "Interestingly, we found substantial differences between the draft minutes of the GoM meeting prepared by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs and those finalised by the Cabinet Secretariat and forwarded to the PM," the CAG said.
The report said, on December 6, 2004, a communication from the PMO stated that institutional arrangements had been evolved for the conduct of the CWG-2010. In this, Mr. Kalmadi was indicated as the Chairman of the Organising Committee and the Executive Board. It also communicated the Prime Minister's direction that these institutional arrangements be considered in the next GoM meeting,’’ CAG said.