Kalmadi to stay, cabinet secretary to monitor CWG


New Delhi : With the Congress Core Committee scheduled to meet Friday evening to discuss the Commonwealth Games (CWG) preparations and the controversies surrounding it, Congress circles indicated that the party was veering round to the view that Organising Committee (OC) chairman Suresh Kalmadi should not be immediately replaced.

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An All India Congress Committee (AICC) office-bearer told IANS that the “high command was coming to the conclusion that the focus should be on conducting the Games properly rather than changing horses midstream in the light of some media reports”.

However, he said better coordination of the preparations and the Games conduct is likely to be ensured by delegating the task to Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar as the nodal official.

“The cabinet secretary is already actively involved. He has been monitoring the preparations and updating the prime minister about the progress in the construction works and other arrangements for the Games,” the AICC official added.

What apparently has prompted the Congress high command rethink on Kalmadi is that senior leaders have told party president Sonia Gandhi that there are “political motives behind the corruption campaign against the Organising Committee”.

It has also been pointed out that the opposition, especially the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its Delhi unit, wants to “defame the Congress over the issue”.

The AICC office-bearer said that the BJP wanted to target several Congress leaders other than Kalmadi through the controversies.

“They want to start with allegations against Kalmadi and extend it to other leaders, including (Delhi Chief Minister) Sheila Dikshit, (Sports Minister) M.S. Gill and (Urban Development Minister) Jaipal Reddy. We saw it in parliament (during the discussion on the Games preparations),” he said.

“The BJP, which has been defeated in three consecutive assembly polls in Delhi, is desperate. They want to weaken Dikshit and the Congress through the Commonwealth Games controversies,” the AICC leader said.

Friday’s Congress Core Committee meeting will be attended by Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, senior ministers Pranab Mukherjee, A.K. Antony and P. Chidmabaram and the political secretary to the Congress chief, Ahmed Patel.

Sources told IANS that Patel and other party leaders have briefed Sonia Gandhi in detail on the controversies about the Games that had begun surfacing during the two weeks since July 25 when she and son Rahul Gandhi were away to the US to attend to her ailing mother.

Rahul Gandhi had also been updated on the allegations against Kalmadi and his aides, party sources said. In fact, a section of the Congress leaders wanted Rahul Gandhi to be part of an oversight panel on the Games.

However, Rahul Gandhi’s aides have advised him not to take up any official position in the Games Organising Committee, Congress circles told IANS.