NEW DELHI: Embattled Mr Suresh Kalmadi was Monday sacked as the chairman of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) Organising Committee to enable an “unhindered” probe into alleged corruption, bringing an unceremonious end to his tenure which was plagued by scandals and controversies.
Mr Kalmadi’s close aide, Mr Lalit Bhanot was also removed as the secretary general of the OC with immediate effect, almost three months after the sporting extravaganza was held here amid a spate of unsavoury controversies.
The decision to remove the two top officials was taken by the new Sports Minister, Mr Ajay Maken after taking legal opinion from the Attorney General. Mr Maken, who took charge of the Ministry barely five days ago from Mr M S Gill, said that both Mr Kalmadi and Mr Bhanot have been removed in light of the ongoing investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) over allegations of corruption and irregularities in organisation and conduct of Commonwealth Games.
“In the light of the concerns expressed by the CBI and in the interest of impartial and unhindered investigations, it has been decided to remove Kalmadi from the position of the chairman of the Organising Committee and the position of chairman, Executive Board of the Organising Committee, CWG, with immediate effect,” Mr Maken said.
But a defiant Mr Kalmadi made it clear that he will not step down from his other post of Indian Olympic Association president. He also said he will react to his ouster as OC chairman only after getting the letter in this regard.
Mr Kalmadi has been directed to hand over charge to Mr Jarnail Singh, chief executive officer of the Organising Committee, who is also a member of the OC’s Executive Board, Mr Maken said. He said that it had also been decided to remove Mr Lalit Bhanot from the position of secretary general of the Organising Committee and from the position of secretary general, Executive Board of the Organising Committee with immediate effect with directions to hand over charge to Mr Jarnail Singh until further orders.
Both, Mr Kalmadi and Mr Bhanot had refused to quit when the scandals had broken out in the run-up to the mega event, maintaining that they had not done anything wrong. Asked whether Mr Kalmadi will also be removed as the president of Indian Olympic Association (IOA), Mr Maken said, “We have sought legal opinion from the Attorney General and we are in the process of seeking legal opinion whenever and whichever places necessary. We will take action only after seeking legal opinion.”
Mr Kalmadi, on his part, said the investigations did not have any bearing on his role as IOA president. “It has nothing to do with the Indian Olympic Association. The IOA general body meeting will be held in Ranchi on February 12,” he told reporters in Ranchi where he had gone in connection with the upcoming National Games.
Mr Maken said that he had been discussing the issue with the Attorney General since the past few days. “After a series of discussions with the AG in past few days, we took this decision. This morning, we had a meeting with the Attorney General and he advised us that we can go ahead with the removal. So, accordingly we removed both the officials,” he said.
“CBI had asked for the removal of Kalmadi and others in connection with the Games. CBI, during its investigation, made some strong observations against Kalmadi,” Mr Maken said. The Kalmadi-led Organising Committee has also been accused by Australian and British companies of delaying payments to them for services rendered during the October 3 to 14 event. Mr Maken had given a ten-day ultimatum to the government nominees in the Organising Committee to sort out the payment disputes and ensure that all the legitimate bills are cleared.