New Delhi, Oct 17: Open war broke out between leading lights of the Commonwealth Games with Suresh Kalmadi hitting back at Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit today declaring he would not want the Organising Committee, which he chaired, to be the "scapegoats any more."
Kalmadi's ire was prompted by Dikshit's comments to PTI yesterday that the "suspicion" of corruption in the just concluded mega sporting event is on the Games Organising Committee(OC). The "real corruption seems to be with regard to the money given as loans (to the OC)", she said. Central government had given loans to the tune of Rs 1,600 crore.
Slamming Dikshit, a beleaguered Kalmadi, said her aspersions on corruption in the OC were "most disappointing and uncalled for" and that she must indulge in self-reflection on corruption in her own departments.
In a hard-hitting statement, Kalmadi said that keeping quiet should not be interpreted as a "sign of weakness".
"But, on Dussehra day, I owe it to the Organising Committee that we speak out. We don't want to be the scapegoats anymore," he said.
"Delhi Chief Minister Mrs. Shiela Dikshit's aspersions on corruption in the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi are most disappointing and uncalled for. It is not right to deflect and point fingers at others when she must indulge in self-reflection on corruption in her own departments," Kalmadi said.
He said the OC has already welcomed the Prime Minister's decision to set up a probe panel and hoped that the Terms of Reference of the Shunglu Committee will include not just the scope of work undertaken by the OC at a budget of Rs 1,620 crore but also the Rs 16,000 spent by the Delhi Government.
"She has said that the ways of the OC are mysterious whereas the Commonwealth Games chief Mr. Michael Fennell declared the conduct of the Games as exceptional and successful," said Kalmadi.
Kalmadi, a senior Congress leader, finds himself increasingly isolated within his own Party after being snubbed by Prime Minister and party president Sonia Gandhi. Both did not invite Kalmadi while felicitating the Commonwealth Games medal winners.
"Despite a series of attacks in the run up to the Games, I was quiet as I wanted the Games to succeed. Keeping quiet should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness. Nor should patience be seen as a sign of guilt. It was more important to focus on the task of conducting the Games well," he said.
Kalmadi said that transparency and accountability remain the watch words in the Organising Committee. "We are confident that the guilty will not be spared irrespective of which agency they belong to," he said.
Kalmadi also criticised Dikshit for taking credit for getting the Games Village ready in time.
"The Games have succeeded because of the efforts of Team India, including a large number of people and agencies and not any individual. Dikshit's attempt to take credit for getting the Games Village ready in time does not fit with the team concept. PTI