Given the central government's conspicuous lack of enthusiasm to act against those responsible for the string of financial irregularities related to the Commonwealth Games 2010, the arrest of Suresh Kalmadi is certainly a step forward. The former Chairman of the Organising Committee — who has been arrested on corruption charges in a case relating to a contract for Timing, Scoring and Result (TSR) devices awarded to a Swiss firm at a scandalously high rate — has a lot to answer for. The Central Bureau of Investigation is investigating his role in another case relating to the Queen's Baton Relay, a traditional precursor to the Commonwealth Games (CWG) that was launched in London in October 2009. But there is no ignoring the fact that many of the scandals in CWG 2010 were the result of either the commission or omission of authorities belonging to a clutch of government bodies, which include the Union Sports Ministry, the Delhi government, and the Delhi Development Authority. The V.K. Shunglu Committee, which was set up to probe “the weaknesses in management, alleged misappropriation, irregularities, wasteful expenditure and wrongdoing in the conduct of the Games,” stresses in its report that the extravagance of the Organising Committee of the Games was coupled with a reckless lack of budgetary control on the part of government authorities. The report records the “galactic jump” of the original budget estimate — placed at somewhere between Rs.300 crore and Rs.400 crore — to an actual expenditure of over Rs.28,000 crore, of which Rs.16,560 crore was spent by the Delhi government.
The Shunglu Committee report implies that there were bigger fish than Mr. Kalmadi in the sea of corrupt CWG-related deals and projects. The CBI must keep the findings of the report in mind while broadening its investigation. The fortunes of Mr. Kalmadi, a Lok Sabha MP and former Union Minister, dipped rapidly after the conclusion of the Commonwealth Games. He was dismissed as the chief of the Organising Committee of the CWG, forced to resign as Secretary of the Congress Parliamentary Party and, following his arrest, suspended from the party's primary membership. Now Mr. Kalmadi is fighting to hold on to the position of the President of the Indian Olympic Association, his role having been taken over by the body's senior vice-president as a result of the former's “indisposition.” Rather than allow him unbridled power as chief of the Organising Committee, a firm check should have been put on Mr. Kalmadi once the first suspicions about financial irregularities emerged. The chaos today is a result of the failure of the central government and the Congress to act against him when they should have.