Refusing to be made the “scapegoat” for corruption and shortcomings alleged in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games (CWG), Suresh Kalmadi, Organising Committee (OC) chairperson, blasted Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Sunday for targeting him and said “keeping quiet should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness, nor should patience be seen as a sign of guilt.”
“It was more important to focus on the task of conducting the Games well. National pride was at stake and I did not want that to be affected. Our challenge was to keep the morale of our workforce of over 4,000 high. We succeeded in doing that, ensuring the smooth delivery of the largest-ever Commonwealth Games,” Mr. Kalmadi said in a statement to the media here.
Hitting out at Ms. Dikshit, who on Saturday said that “suspicion of corruption” was on the OC headed by Mr. Kalmadi, he said her “aspersions on corruption in the Organising Committee were most disappointing and uncalled for… It is not right to deflect and point fingers at others when she must indulge in self-reflection on corruption in her own departments. She has said that the ways of the Organising Committee are mysterious, whereas the CWG chief, Mr. Michael Fennel, declared the conduct of the Games exceptional and successful,” Mr. Kalmadi said in his statement.
Supporting the setting up of a probe panel, Mr. Kalmadi said he was sure that the terms of reference of the Shunglu Committee would include not just the scope of work undertaken by the OC at a budget of Rs. 1,620 crore but also the Rs. 16,000 crore spent by the Delhi government. The panel has been set up by the Prime Minister.
Mr. Kalmadi — who was kept away from the two functions where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi met Indian medal winners in the past two days — met Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy here on Sunday, ahead of the crucial post-Games meeting of the Group of Ministers on Monday. While the details of the meeting were not made public, the GoM is expected to focus on the money spent by the OC.
OC watch words
“Transparency and accountability” remained the watch words on the OC, Mr. Kalmadi said the committee was confident that the guilty would not be spared irrespective of which agency they belonged to, even as he went on to point out that all decisions were made by the Executive Board, which included two representatives each of the Central and Delhi governments.
“And the Prime Minister's Office deputed a number of officers, including the Chief Exceutive Officer, Jarnail Singh, to work with the committee,” he noted.
He said a massive amount of work was done in planning and preparing for the Games by innumerable people under the guidance of the Indian Olympic Association and the National Sports Federations. “The Games have succeeded because of the efforts of Team India, including a large number of people and agencies and not any individual.” Ms. Dikshit's attempt to take credit for getting the Games Village ready in time does not fit into the team concept, he said. The Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi and the OC, preparing the Village for over two years, coordinated the work of a number of agencies to ensure that it was entirely ready to welcome the athletes.
When the foot overbridge near the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium collapsed, it led to doubts about the safety of the users. Reports of delays in getting the city ready also caused many teams to believe the Games could not be held. “We had to do a lot of hand-holding and cajoling to ensure that the full complement of 71 nations and territories took part in the Games,” the statement issued by Mr. Kalmadi said.