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PM Warns Wrongdoers, As Kalmadi Points Finger At Sports Ministry

New Delhi/Ranchi, Feb 24: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said no wrongdoer can "escape punishment" in the CWG scam even as Suresh Kalmadi, the sacked chairman of the Games' Organising Committee, accused probe agencies of
PTI February 24, 2011 18:03 IST
New Delhi/Ranchi, Feb 24: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said no wrongdoer can "escape punishment" in the CWG scam even as Suresh Kalmadi, the sacked chairman of the Games' Organising Committee, accused probe agencies of "targeting" his team on alleged irregularities.

Embattled Kalmadi also sought to point fingers at the Sports Ministry, saying it was part of the entire decision -making process in the run up to the mega sporting event last October, a day after his closest aides Lalit Bhanot and V K Verma were arrested by CBI.

Both Bhanot, the ousted former Secretary-General of the OC, and Verma, OC's ex-Director General, were remanded in CBI custody in New Delhi for five days in connection with alleged irregularities in the Rs 107 crore deal with a Swiss firm.

Prime Minister Singh while sharing concerns of MPs over the CWG scam told the Lok Sabha "There were complaints of wrong-doings even before the Games and from the ramparts of the Red Fort, I had promised that if a wrong thing has been done, we will investigate the matter. If found guilty, no one will be spared," he said.

"No wrong-doer can escape punishment," Singh said, noting that a high-powered committee was looking into the CWG issue.

In New Delhi, Bhanot and Verma were produced before special judge Talwant Singh who said both the accused are remanded in five-day CBI custody.

The CBI alleged before the court that both the accused persons abused their official position and awarded the contract to Switzerland-based firm Swiss Timing Ltd at exorbitant rates of approximately Rs 107 cr, thereby causing a huge loss to the government.

"Accused Lalit Bhanot and V K Verma, during the relevant period, were among the functionaris and key personnel in the OC and were deeply involved and instrumental in allotment of contract for Timing, Scoring and Result (TSR) System to Swiss Timing in a pre-planned and pre-meditated manner at an exorbitant rate," the agency said in its remand application while seeking seven-day custody.

Kalmadi expressed shock and displeasure over the way the CWG probe has been handled by the investigating agencies when all the documents pertaining to the conduct of the Games were with them.

Asked whether he anticipated arrest any time, Kalmadi ended a press conference in Ranchi abruptly saying "Let's see".

"I would like to state that the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has been a party to the decision at every step and I don't understand why only the Organising Committee is being singled out for questioning by investigating agencies," Kalmadi said reading out from a written statement.

Sports Minister Ajay Maken sidestepped the claims of Kalmadi that all approvals for projects were given by the Sports Ministry, saying the matter was under investigation.

"I don't need to respond (to Kalmadi's claims) as enquiries by various agencies are on," Maken said in Delhi.

Kalmadi said the executive board (of the Organising Committee) comprised of two officers from government of India, two from Delhi government, three officials from Commonwealth federations and then IOA people, including himself and Ranbir.

"So it was a very balanced team, and all decisions have been taken unanimously. There has been no case that we (OC and Sports ministry) differed. All (decisions) have been approved by the executive board. I am surprised that the investigating agencies are calling the officials of the organising committee and no government official is being called," Kalmadi said.

Kalmadi, also the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president, repeated his demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the conduct of the Games and said law should take its course.

"The entire process seems to be against the officials who have worked with the Organising Committee for many years. No decision related to the Games was taken alone by anyone. So I am shocked that investigative agencies are only calling the officers of the organising committee and that no government officers have so far been called by them.

"I don't understand that when all the details are with the investigating agencies, all documents are with them, then why are they only calling the OC officials. OC members are only being targeted, why not others involved in the decision making. We want this thing to become clear when all the papers are with the agencies," said Kalmadi.

Kalmadi said that all the decisions had been approved by the Executive Board, consisting of senior Central and Delhi government officers.

"I would like to state that all the decisions had been made by the members of the executive board and not alone by the OC members. It's not the decision made by any individual. Nowhere decisions were made by the members of the OC. There was the finance sub-committee, finance committee and the executive board. They all have senior government officers. They all were participatory in the decision-making process," he lamented.

Reiterating his demand for a JPC probe, he said, "My request for the JPC is still on, this is my request that it should be conducted. Right now, the impression is that only organising committee was involved in every matter. But no single individual had taken any decision. So, I think JPC should be launched and they will look into it and everything will become clear." PTI

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