The slipper that made Suresh Kalmadi a politician in the Seventies has boomeranged on him on April 25, 2011. The smile on his face, of which he had spoken with pride when allegations of scam were made against him before Commonwealth Games (CWG) 2010, that it would remain unchanged even after the probe, has now vanished. It seems that the era of a sports mafia is about to end now. Yes, he can be portrayed as a sports mafia as he has occupied the presidentships of many sports organisations for more than 15 years, including Indian Olympic Association (IOA)—from1996 to till date, Athletics Federation of India (AFI)—from 1996 to till date, Asian Athletics Association (AAA)—from 2001 till date. Apart from these, he is holding several different posts in different national and state-level sports organisations. The former chairman of Organising Committee (OC) of CWG, Suresh Kalmadi was arrested by CBI on April 24, 2011, and was subsequently suspended from the membership of Congress party the same day in the evening. In a single day, Kalmadi has suddenly lost the battle and is left alone to fight the corruption charges.
The fall of Kalmadi has increased the political heat in the capital. Though opposition leaders have welcomed it, they also showed their dissatisfaction saying that it was a very late action. BJP national general secretary Ravi Shankar Prasad termed the arrest a step in the right direction but said it was belated. “Why only Kalmadi? All those responsible and involved in the CWG scam should be brought to book and punished. The fund-sanctioning authority for the Games had a representative from the PMO also,” he said. BJP national president Nitin Gadkari commented that it was the tip of the iceberg and many big players were still roaming around free. PM has to act on them too. Similar statements were issued by JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav and CPM leader Vrinda Karat. The Opposition is demanding action on the Shunglu Committee Report. The Shunglu Committee was constituted by the Prime Minister and it has raised some serious questions on the role of Chief Minister of Delhi, Shiela Dikshit.
The Congress has found itself to be cornered by the recent developments and refused to make any comment. Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said, “Delhi government has already made its stand clear on the Shunglu Committee Report and the Union Home Ministry would examine it and arrive at its conclusion. I will not give a running commentary on the issue.” But the Congress has suspended Kalmadi from the party immediately after his arrest. Thereafter, Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken requested IOA to remove him. Maken said: “The person who is in jail or who has been chargesheeted—it would not be in national interest that he should represent the country.” He also consulted with the Attorney General for the ways so that the ministry could force IOA to remove him, but after its initial reluctance IOA went with the government and replaced Kalmadi with new president VK Malhotra, MP, BJP.
Kalmadi is also aware of his continuously weakening position. That is why he has started to target other players involved. At first he targeted the former Youth and Sports Affairs Minister MS Gill. “The decision to award the Timing-Scoring-Result (TSR) system contract to Swiss Timing was taken by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs. But then Gill or ministry officials have not been examined or interrogated so far,” his counsels Hitesh Jain and Amit Desai submitted before Special Judge Talwant Singh. Kalmadi is also targeting Sheila Dikshit from the beginning. But the Congress is not giving any attention to his allegations.
However, an inside source of CBI commented that the arrest of Kalmadi is nothing but a political drama. He said that all the evidences on the basis of which he was arrested were available to CBI since the beginning of the probe. Then why was Kalmadi arrested so late? It is also proved by the fact that CBI has charged Kalmadi only for misusing its post, thus causing the loss of Rs 96 crore to the government. This is a very small part of the whole scam, which shows that this action is only a political drama. A source of the Congress party indicated that the party could also take action against Sheila Dikshit. Political analysts believe that with the movement against corruption getting more and more extensive, the government is searching a way out to save its face. This is the main reason why CBI became active and Kalmadi got arrested. The Congress wants to pretend that it is taking serious action against corruption. While sportspersons such as Pargat Singh and Morad Ali Khan hoped that this would kick-start the reform of the sports federations of the country, the political analysts regarded the whole episode as a mere political drama of the Congress.
By Ravi Shankar