BJP, Congress spar over Games, Kalmadi attacks Dikshit

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress were Tuesday engaged in a spat over the Commonwealth Games, with BJP chief Nitin Gadkari alleging the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had a role in the sanction of escalated costs for the Games and Congress hitting back that Gadkari was feeling insecure as many party leaders “are in the ambit of investigation”.

On the sidelines, Games Organising Committee (OC) chief Suresh Kalmadi continued his criticism of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit saying that she “should set her house in order before pointing fingers at others”.

Meanwhile, income tax sleuths raided the premises of several Games contractors, including a BJP leader, while the Enforcement Directorate filed cases against the OC officials.

Gadkari, who held a press conference here to expose “the corrupt deals in the Games”, demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the corruption allegations to fix political accountability, and said that sanctions for the projects had come through the PMO and the cabinet.

“There was huge escalation in costs… A racket was there for many years. Money was sanctioned without proper evaluation… Some officials may be named but basically the responsibility is of the highest authority,” he said.

He also said that the CWG budget which stood at Rs.1,899 crore in 2003 went up to Rs.70,000 crore in 2010 and approvals were given by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the cabinet.

He said only Rs.350 crore was spent on Indian athletes.

“There was corruption… Money passed in benami (illegal) transactions through Swiss bank accounts and Mauritius route,” Gadkari alleged.

He said that revisions in the budget were approved by the PMO.

“Files for more money were approved by the PMO… Why advance (money) given was not checked by PM? What type of tender process they had? The CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) pointed out that things were not going properly,” Gadkari said, adding that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had also pointed out that the budget went through several revisions.

Gadkari posed 15 questions to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the Games and also asked him if the entire cabinet was not responsible for the “CWG chaos and corruption”.

The BJP chief described the probe ordered by the government as “an eyewash”. “CWG investigations must cover all central and state government agencies. The files, paper notings should be seized,” he said.

Gadkari said probe should cover ministries of urban development, tourism, home, finance, sports, Delhi Development Authority, Delhi government and the Organising Committee.

The BJP leader claimed the party had collected documentary proof to back its allegations and had kept it to give to probe agencies.

Asked about the I-T raids on BJP leader Sudhanshu Mittal, Gadkari said the BJP was for action against any person involved in corruption.

Stoutly denying the BJP charges, the Congress hit back at Gadkari saying his allegations of corruption were “diversionary tactics” and the prime minister had ordered a probe into the allegations of irregularities.

Apparently referring to income tax raids on Mittal, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said: “The BJP president is feeling intimidated that a number of leaders of the party are in the ambit of investigation. He is feeling insecure whether the inquiry may reach his doorsteps.”

Tewari said “the demeanour of the BJP president is like a spoilt child who would do anything to draw attention to himself. That’s why we don’t usually take him seriously. But today he crossed all limits of irresponsibility.”

On the BJP’s demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into corruption charges relating to the Games, Tewari said it was a matter that pertained to the government.

Meanwhile, OC chief Suresh Kalmadi again slammed Sheila Dikshit and asked her to set her “house in order” before pointing fingers at the Organising Committee.

“I have kept quiet all along because my interest was to deliver a good Games but that should not be seen as a sign of weakness. Now that the Games are over, I shall speak out. I have already replied to Ms. Dikshit that set your own house in order before pointing fingers at us,” Kalmadi was quoted as saying by CNN-IBN.

“She had a budget of Rs.16,000 crore for construction-related work and I had nothing to do with it. My budget was Rs.1,600 crore. I was not part of the construction work. She has to answer a lot for that,” Kalmadi said.

“Everybody criticised me for the foot over-bridge collapse (near the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium), but that was not my business. The Delhi government and the Public Works Department (PWD) have to answer for that,” he added. “When the prime minister has ordered a probe, she (Dikshit) doesn’t have to say anything.”

Filed under: Commonwealth Games

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