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Govt's options over Kalmadi: Sack or sideline

Last updated on: August 13, 2010 16:23 IST

Govt's options over Kalmadi: Sack or sideline

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi
Even as Suresh Kalmadi continues to be in the eye of the storm and is continuing to battle charges of corruption, sources say that the government and the Congress party are looking at two options and weighing the pros and cons of implementing them in a bid to save the games as well as protect the government from further bad publicity on issues of corruption.

Sources say there is a move afoot to appoint a supervisory committee to be headed by the cabinet secretary (since no political leader wants to take on the mantle at this stage) which would monitor the preparations for the Games and in the process dilute Kalmadi's authority as well as act as a watchdog on his activities.

The second option is to seek Kalmadi's resignation and the in his place appoint KP Singh Deo, who is the vice president in the Indian Olympics Association.

This would be done before the Games though the general feeling is that it is already too late and that Kalmadi should be kept till the Games, after which he would have to go, as a large number of enquiries would open against him.

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Image: File photo of Suresh Kalmadi at the Games village
Photographs: Reuters
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Another day, another allegation

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In the meantime, new allegations of corruption have hit Kalmadi through an interim report by the comptroller and auditor general of India.

The document indicts the top rung of the Commonwealth Games: Kalmadi, who is chairman of the Commonwealth Games' organising committee; Mike Fennel, president of the Commonwealth Games' Federation; and Chief Executive Officer Mike Hooper.

The interim report suggests gigantic lapses in the way companies were chosen to handle broadcast rights and sponsorship rights.

By selecting Fast Track Sales of London to handle the broadcast rights, the report suggests that Rs 24 crore was lost in revenue. It also says other bids were not studied before Fast Track was awarded the contract. Kalmadi rebuts that the Organising Committee received only two bids, and that it chose Fast track because the firm had handled TV rights for four of the last five Commonwealth Games.



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Team Kalmadi on Fast Track

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Team Kalmadi also praises Fast Track for delivering Rs 262 crore through international sales of TV rights, as compared to the Rs 120 crore it had promised when it bid for the contract.

Interestingly, the organising committee says the other company to have bid for the TV rights was Sports Marketing and Management -- SMAM -- based in Melbourne.

SMAM did not have the required experience to handle broadcast needs, says Team Kalmadi.

What SMAM did end up with -- till last week -- was a highly valuable deal to handle sponsorship and international advertising for the Games.



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'The country's prestige was at stake'

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The interim report of the CAG states while four companies wanted to apply for the contract, only SMAM was considered.

The contract was cancelled last week by the OC for 'non-performance' -- the Games currently have Rs 400 crore in sponsorship against their target of Rs 1000 crore.

For the Queen's Baton Relay in October last year, the interim report says that the consultants chosen for the ceremony were, bizarrely, the highest bidder.

By using Maxxam International, the interim report states, Rs 6.16 crore was wasted.

Maxxam's bid was five times more than the lowest bid received. Team Kalmadi, however, says Maxxam had experience in handling the same ceremony for earlier Games, and the company was chosen because "the country's prestige was at stake."



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More and more dirt is being dished out

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Meanwhile, VK Verma, a Director General of the OC, defended Kalmadi, stating, "All major contracts, SMAM, MAXX, have been taken by the board, not single-handedly by Kalmadi. He was just a chairman of the board."

With more and more dirt being dished out, the interim report details how money was squandered on hotels, transportation, entertainment, leasing houses for senior officials and guidelines were blatantly violated in utter disregard for norms and laid out procedures.

Sources say this is only the tip of the iceberg as the CAG will also look at various other agencies making preparations for the Commonwealth Games, who will also soon be under the scanner.



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