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Kalmadi ball: PM to ex-PM court

New Delhi, Aug. 2: The comptroller and auditor general has blamed the Prime Minister for allowing Suresh Kalmadi to seize control of the Commonwealth Games organising committee, according to leaked excerpts from the CAG report.

But Union sports minister Ajay Maken said Kalmadi became the organising committee chief because of an agreement the Vajpayee government signed in 2003, months before the UPA came to power.

The CAG report that is yet to be tabled in Parliament says a group of ministers headed by Manmohan Singh chose Kalmadi as the organising committee chief, a decision then sports minister Sunil Dutt objected to, according to the leaked excerpts.

The official bid by the Indian Olympic Association to the Commonwealth Games Federation in 2003 had Kalmadi —the IOA chief — as the vice-chairperson of the still-to-be constituted organising committee, the CAG report allegedly says. The bid stated that the government would nominate a chairperson to head the organising committee’s executive board.

A group of ministers decided to appoint the sports minister as the organising committee head at a meeting on October 25, 2004, the leaked CAG report says. However, another group of ministers headed by the Prime Minister overturned this decision and made Kalmadi the chief, giving him control to spend over Rs 2,000 crore on the Games.

Maken disputes this. He said the BJP-led NDA government signed the “host city agreement” and accepted Kalmadi as the organising committee head. The games management protocol clearly said that the IOA would form the organising committee.

To Dutt and another former sports minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar, having questioned Kalmadi’s unfettered powers, Maken said: “I agree. We all questioned these things. But they could not have done (anything).”

“There were two options (with UPA-I). Either to scrap the Games or to go with the host city contract, which the NDA regime signed in November 2003. There was no third option,” Maken said.

Maken also pointed out that the host city contract should have been signed by the “city government, the Delhi government in this case” and questioned why it was signed by the Vajpayee government.

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