Facing a credibility crisis and under pressure to deliver a successful Commonwealth Games next year, Organising Commitee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi insists that he was not being sidelined by the Indian government and he sees no reason to step down from his post.
After his public spat with the Commonwealth Games Federation Chief Michael Fennell and CEO Mike Hooper, the Games Organising Committee and the parent body have been on a collision course on organisational issues for the past few months.
Kalmadi, however, claims that all the issues have been sorted out and he enjoys full support of the Indian government, dismissing suggesstion that he was being sidelined in the light of some new appointments in the Organising Committee.
"Let me tell you that the Government is supporting me fully. All the officers have come at my request and I have also asked for a lot of people from Army.
"About 50 people are joining from the Army as well and so we have asked people from Public Sectors, Private sectors and from the Government as well. They will do the work which they are supposed to do. So I am happy with them coming here," Kalmadi said in an interview to a news channel.
The government had appointed Jarnail Singh as CEO of the Organising Committee and named three senior IAS officials to work with him. A sub-committee was also formed to monitor and regulate financial matters. A Group of Ministers will also meet every two weeks to monitor progress.
On the sub-commitee, Kalmadi said, "I would like to say the Government has increased the budget from Rs 700 crore to Rs 1600 crore and they have put committees to look into the financial matters. I am very happy on that."
Doubts are mounting over the successful conduct of the Games under his leadership but the IOA chief said he would not call it quits.
"There is no question of my stepping aside. These Games have been allotted to the Indian Olympic Association and whole Indian Olympic Association is doing a great job.
"There is no question of stepping aside when only eight months are left for the Games. No body is going to run away from these Games. We are going to do it and will present the best Games ever. We are determined about that," he said.
Kalmadi also asserted that he has not conceded to the demands of Fennell, rather they have worked out a formula acceptable to both the sides, but refused to divulge details.
"That's not true (about giving in to Fennell). And I don't want to comment more on that. It was give and take on both sides and we have reached total agreement," Kalmadi said.
Specifically asked if he has agreed to Fennell's demand that an independent panel of experts be formed to monitor the progress of the work, Kalmadi refused to speak on the issue.
"I don't want to discuss about it because we have resolved the issue. There is a coordination commission which is coming and all the decisions will be taken after that and we will have another meeting with Mike Fennell and all these things will be decided. You will come to know after December. We have decided not to talk about it at all," he said.
Kalmadi though admitted to have appointed more foreign experts as demanded by Fennell but insisted that they have come in areas where India had no expertise.
"We have already got the foreign hires, all of them are in place. We have just added two or three more. What is required for the Games to be successful, we have done it and there is no controversy between the Commonwealth Games and the Indian Olympic Association," he said.
On being reminded that in October he had said no to more foreign experts, Kalmadi said, "When there is 50 in place, 2-3 is not a big number. They have agreed that as far as the new games are concerned -- netball, rugby -- we can have the foreign consults but in other events like shooting, weightlifting, or archery, where Indians are already well placed, there is no need for foreign managers."
Kalmadi admitted compromising the Organising Committee's stand on the Hooper issue but insisted it was in the interest of the Games.
"If I have conceded anything, it's in the interest of the Games and for the country. I have conceded. Mike Fennell has conceded on various issues. But I can't tell you what Mr Mike Fennell has spoken with Mike Hooper. Now things are alright, me and Mike Hooper are meeting quite regularly and things are moving forward.
"In the interest of the Games, I am ready to take one step back. Let me tell you that much. I have no ego on that."