Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Corruption in Games funds Makes a Big Bang in Parliament

The flood of reports detailing massive corruption and bungling in preparations for the Commonwealth Games saw the government being pushed on the back foot on Monday, with MPs slamming it for allowing “loot” of public money.

Opposition MPs like BJP’s Kirti Azad, who described the Games as “bhrashtmandal” or “corruption” Games instead of the Hindi term “rashtramandal khel”, demanded that a probe be immediately instituted and a joint parliamentary committee set up.

The vociferous demand saw urban development minister S Jaipal Reddy promising to pursue the corrupt to the end of the earth, be it London or Timbuktoo. Congress’s lead speaker Manish Tiwari also said that “those guilty of corruption should be hanged”. Interestingly, none of Delhi’s MPs spoke.

Parliament was rocked on Monday by lawmakers decrying the monumental scale of corruption involved in the Commonwealth Games preparations. Trinamool Congress, the second largest party in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), said it “will be satisfied” if PM Manmohan Singh makes a statement in the Lok Sabha that “anybody found guilty of Commonwealth Games corruption will not be spared”.

Congress’s Manish Tiwari sought to play down reports of CVC looking into irregularities in projects being executed by different government agencies, and suggested that the money lost because of alleged corruption in Queen’s Baton Relay was only a fraction of the total expense. But notwithstanding his “don’t cut the nose to spite the face” advice, the Congress MP refrained from batting for Suresh Kalmadi led Organizing Committee.

References to damning delay and cost overruns rang out loudly in the Lok Sabha. A visibly tense Kalmadi sat through the proceedings, showing papers to BJP veteran L K Advani and other participants in the debate. The exertions of Kalmadi whom Sharad Yadav insisted on calling Shera after the Games Mascot did not have much of an impact.

Terming claims made by LS members as “sweeping unsubstantiated charges and fears but nothing concrete”, urban development minister S Jaipal Reddy said “all irregularities will be inquired into exhaustively” and punishment will be “draconian”.