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Congress distances itself from Kalmadi

August 03, 2010 06:53 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 09:32 pm IST - New Delhi

File photo of Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi. While distancing itself from Kalmadi, the Congress on Tuesday gave a clean chit to Union Ministers S. Jaipal Reddy, M.S. Gill and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on the CWG fraud issue.

File photo of Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi. While distancing itself from Kalmadi, the Congress on Tuesday gave a clean chit to Union Ministers S. Jaipal Reddy, M.S. Gill and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on the CWG fraud issue.

An embarrassed Congress distanced itself from Commonwealth Games (CWG) Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi, even as allegations of massive corruption — and even diversion of funds — rocked Parliament on Tuesday.

However, the party described Union Minister for Urban Development S. Jaipal Reddy, Union Minister for Sports M.S. Gill and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as people of integrity.

Even though Mr. Kalmadi, the Lok Sabha member from Pune, is in the Congress, party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed stressed, “Suresh Kalmadi is there not as a Congress representative but as the president of the Indian Olympic Association.”

Law to take its course

Acknowledging the serious charges against the CWG Organising Committee, Mr. Ahmed said, “As Chairman of the committee, he [Mr. Kalmadi] will reply to the charges. If there have been irregularities, the law will take its own course. The country wants an answer to the charges. We, too, are going through media reports about complaints in the management of the Games.”

However, when asked to comment on the roles of Mr. Reddy and Mr. Gill, he said their “integrity” was beyond doubt, while Ms. Dikshit was of “impeccable integrity.” Pressed to answer whether he could give a similar clean chit to Mr. Kalmadi, he said: “Who am I to give a clean chit to Kalmadi?”

‘Party image not hit'

The Congress spokesperson, however, rejected the idea that the Congress' image had taken a beating as the CWG Organising Committee had members from other political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party. On allegations that materials for the CWG were being purchased at exorbitant rates, Mr. Ahmed said, “The price you mentioned seems unrealistic, but it is for the Organising Committee to explain these things.” While stressing that the CWG should not be obstructed in any way as that would damage India's standing, he said that if the spate of allegations were proved the guilty would not be allowed to go scot-free. “Let us wait for some time. There will be an inquiry by some agency,” he said.

Divergent views

However, on the issue of diversion of funds from the Scheduled Castes Special Component Plan for the Games, there were divergent views in the party. Mr. Ahmed was ambivalent, saying, “I don't have the details, but if it is true, it is very surprising that funds earmarked for weaker sections have gone for organising the Games.”

However, a Cabinet Minister defended the Delhi government, saying that while it was mandatory for a certain percentage of all government spending to be allocated for SC welfare in SC-dominated areas, in a city such as Delhi, it was difficult for people to grasp whether an area was SC-dominated. He added that any development directed at a SC-dominated area — by way of roads and bridges etc. — would benefit all sections of the population, not just the SCs.

Clearly, while the Congress is in no mood to defend Mr. Kalmadi, it does not want any of its ministers to be affected by charges of corruption.

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