New Delhi – Two years after he was asked to step down as the chairman of the 2010 Commonwealth Games for suspected irregularities in the preparations for the mega event, Suresh Kalmadi still enjoys his clout in the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), of which he is technically the president in spite of having stepped aside.
Kalmadi, who ran the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee as his personal fief and allegedly filled it with his cronies and people known or close to him. was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), April 25, 2011 for alleged misappropriation of Rs.90 crores in the hiring of TSR (Timing, Scoring and Result) system for the Games, one of the two cases he was named an accused by the premier investigating agency.
After being released from jail in January, Kalmadi decided to step aside as the IOA president, asking senior vice president Vijay Kumar Malhotra to continue as the acting-president, a role Malhotra had assumed after Kalmadi was arrested.
Despite his self-imposed sabbatical from the IOA, Kalmadi, a Congress MP from Pune, still commands the loyalty of his fellow sports administrators.
So much so that Haryana strongman Abhay Chautala, the newly-elected chairman of the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF), will be Kalmadi’s candidate in next month’s IOA presidential elections.
An IOA source told IANS that Kalmadi will be backing Chautala for the president’s post.
“The government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) doesn’t want Kalmadi to continue in the IOA. Also Kalmadi has court cases against him in the CWG scam. Kalmadi knows that he cannot fight on two fronts. He has vowed to clear his name and that is why he won’t contest the elections this time and would back Chautala,” the source said.
Backed by Kalmadi, Chautala will be taking on IOA secretary general Randhir Singh, who has been a fierce critic of Kalmadi.
The Nov 25 IOA election has attracted the attention of the IOC as well. To ensure that the elections are held in free and fair manner, the IOC will be sending two observers, including one from the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).
But it is for a fact that even though Kalmadi is not contesting, he will play a major role behind the scenes.
Besides Kalmadi, his associates and senior OC officials T.S. Darbari, V.K. Verma, Lalit Bhanot, Jayachandran, along with four other persons and two companies are named in the timing equipment case.