Sunday, 24 May 2020

Dim Prospects Of CWG Probe

Updated: November 6, 2010 2:55 pm

The Prime Minister was quick off the mark to order a high level probe by multiple agencies into the irregularities preceding the Commonwealth Games (CWG). Sensing the public mood it was politically a smart move. But was it purely cosmetic or could it lead to meaningful results? The first indications are most discouraging. The Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) was entrusted with looking into all the deals. But a retired official was designated to head the probe. Why? What was wrong with the sitting chief of CAG? The Group of Ministers (GOM) inquiring into the CWG scams is headed by the Urban Affairs Minister. His ministry was heavily involved in building the infrastructure of the CWG. By what logic is this glaring conflict of interest justified?

                Immediately with closure of CWG Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit took credit for instantly transforming ”magically” the CWG Village. She was appropriately snubbed by Lieutenant- Governor Khanna who drew attention to the large number of central agencies which actually did the job. Even after a high level probe had been ordered to submit findings within three months, Dikshit named Organizing Committee (OC) Suresh Kalmadi for corruption. Why the panic? Kalmadi does not smell like roses. But then, despite media projecting him as the main villain was he the only villain? Could he possibly have been the only villain? Naturally Kalmadi hit back and accused Dikshit of being corrupt. Both Congress leaders most likely were speaking the truth.

                The probe itself displayed the motivated slant of authorities. Enforcement Directorate (ET) raids were conducted simultaneously on 26 targets. However the identity of only one of the 26, a senior BJP leader, was leaked to the press. TV channels descended on that one victim like a ton of bricks. Not a word about the identity of the remaining 25 raided. The BJP President has hit out at the PMO for the ultimate responsibility for the mismanagement. The Congress hit back at the BJP accusing it of diverting attention from the one BJP leader who was raided. With such motivated politicking under way at the very start of the probe what hope might be placed on obtaining the real truth? The answer is, precious little.

                Unless non-official agencies, citizens’ groups and sections of the media get into the act with a vengeance little might be expected from the official probe. The litmus test of a genuine probe would be of course how far high the nailing process reaches. Kalmadi and Dikshit are small fry. So can non-official sources achieve meaningful results? I believe they can. Recall the MA Films scam unearthed by British investigative agencies regarding corruption related to the Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR). It was good fortune for India that the Queen’s displeasure provoked British agencies to act with zeal.

                It might be recalled that the corruption related to QBR involved a small little-known British firm, AM Films, headed by one Patel. Why was this unknown British firm selected? According to Kalmadi one Raju Sebastian, a low level employee at the Indian High Commission in London, made the recommendation. Kalmadi confidently displayed the letter from Raju Sebastian on TV citing the Indian High Commission to justify the selection of MA Films. The Indian High Commission promptly rubbished Kalmadi. It denied that Sebastian was authorized to make the recommendation. He was too junior to have been assigned such responsibility. So what was Sebastian’s clout to make Kalmadi jump? To catch the big fish behind the curtain all that the media must do is to zero in on Raju Sebastian and find out his links. The media might hit the jackpot. Provided of course the media is genuinely interested in getting at the truth.

By Rajinder Puri

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