Commonwealth Games, Kalmadi and Questions from a Tax Payer [Part 1]

Posted on August 6, 2010 in YKA Editorials

Our Special Correspondent Saahil Menghani has been following the Commonwealth Games trail from the very first day. In this series he tracks down the CWG saga, speculates Kalmadi’s statements and brings forth question from an honest tax payer.

With 58 days left for the mega sporting event to kick off, controversies could find no better time to knock the doors of Media and instigate a mini heart attack for organisers. Scams are getting murkier, allegations are getting dirtier- an Indian version of announcing that “Countdown to the games has begun.”

The controversy regarding AM Films instigated when British Tax authorities expressed their eagerness to investigate if there were any loopholes in the payments made to the firm by the OC for the job done. British authorities sniffed some wrong-doings when OC approached them in March for a VAT refund of 14,000 pounds for the payments.

What started out as concerns regarding the amount of payments also revealed some “contractual irregularities”. There is no signed contract between the OC and the AM Films for which the Kalmadi company accounts a recommendation from Indian High Commission.

However, High Commission has very clearly declined advocating the name of AM Films for the required task. To this, Kalmadi retaliated with the claims of having E-mails of Raju Sebastian, a clerk in IHC, as a proof.

Question from the tax payers

How can an email be forged while dealing with transactions related to such a huge sporting event? Did no one in the committee realize the non-significance of a document sent by a lower grade official, Raju Sebastian? If they didn’t, are they eligible to still be on board? Isn’t it a complete goof-up?

Mr. Suresh Kalmadi had this to say in his defense, “IHC recommended AM films. We didn’t sign the contract because it was such an emergency.” Mr Kalmadi, how many other blunders did you and your battalion commit citing emergency? Everything being done in CWG is a resultant of raised alarm bells — does that mean there is a blunder involved with every assignment?

What do you have to say Mr. Kalmadi about the email to Ashish Patel about surcharging the taxi fares? How is it possible to hire a taxi for 450 pounds per day-double the amount required to hire a Mercedes or a BMW in London? Patel’s own company charges 150 pounds per day for a Merc S Class , then why voraciously higher prices for CWG? Has this trend been also followed in other last minute deals and became a reason for the un-expected and un-justifiable hike in the games budget?

The email sent by Kalmadi’s aide and Deputy Director General of the Common Wealth Games (CWG) Sanjay Mahendroo clearly shows that he is “dictating” and not “requesting” or “enquiring” about the prices to Mr. Patel. Moreover, the dispatched email is from Mohindroo’s personal email ID and neither did he care to keep anyone else in BCC or CC nor to send a copy of the E-mail to other members of the OC. Too much blind faith or intentional ignorance or behind-the-scene control by a big silent shrewd player, what does it really imply Mr. President?

“99% of Emails sent by CWG officials are not from their official Email IDs,” confirms Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief of Times Now. No time for the contracts still could be understood but what about not doing crucial conversation via CWG’s official E-mail ID? Isn’t it a superb example of flaunting of rules? Example of callous attitude? Example of prevalent belief, “CWG humare baap ka hai”?

Kalmadi till date has denied the charges of malpractice smashed on his team. Now, when the Sports Ministry has ordered the removal of Darbari and Mohindroo (right and left hand of Kalmadi), does Kalmadi have any moral/technical/legal and above all a justifiable explanation to his confidently and blatantly puked false claims?

Sports Ministry seeked the removal of OC members Sanjay Mohindroo and TS Darbari for their alleged “links” with Patel and his companies. Your team is creating “personal links” with the firms. Wasn’t it your duty to remind them that their foreign trips were meant to serve the nation and not to establish and expand their list of professional contacts whom they have allegedly milched for crores of rupees? Oh yes, you yourself have been alleged doing that, right?

On Wednesday, the Foreign office denied Sebastian making any mention of AM Films and in fact merely quoted rates charged by different vendors that were available with the IHC. Isn’t it a clear implication that the E-mail that Kalmadi was flaunting proudly as his protecting baton was in fact a forged proof to hide the real shame? If it is, then isn’t it a case of misleading the nation instead of accepting a grievous crime? Since the email only quoted prices by various vendors, why shouldn’t we take contract being given to AM films and that too at “inflated” prices clearly as a “hook-up” between the firm and members of the Organising Committee? Bad conscience.

Kalmadi reacted by setting up a three-member team to investigate the charges. Isn’t a committee executed and monitored by Kalmadi to probe charges against the man himself equivalent to a bankrupt firm sending a show-cause notice to itself?

Ashish Patel is already facing a ban from March 17, 2010 to March 16, 2017. This means when the deal was given its final shape, Mr. Patel was already a disqualified director. Does that mean CWG is so desperate to do business that it is even ready to do a deal with an organisation whose top official is a dubious character? Isn’t it a business blunder to assign a contract to a firm without examining it’s credibility and evalutating it’s past record, an old age protocol without which a business done is a virtual suicide? The act under which Mr. Patel has been barred (Section 7 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act, 1986) means that his firm is “insolvent”, doesn’t that also make CWG authorities insolvent for having done business with them? Isn’t it a blot on our nation’s reputation? A red flag for CWG Organising Committee? A disrespect to the CWG?

After the whip falling on Darbari, are heads down with shame or Minds rolling to hatch a cover up fish tale?

Why are you silent Mr. Kalmadi after the expulsion of your “khasam-khas”? You said, “buck stops with me”. The buck is exactly at you right now, then why are you buckling down? Why avoiding presser? Face the media. Face The nation. Face the future. Face the youth. Face the truth.