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Suresh Kalmadi rejects lifetime IOA presidency

His lawyer Hitesh Jain revealed in a statement today that Kalmadi wanted to be 'cleared of all charges' first.

DELHI, INDIA - OCTOBER 12:  Commonwealth Games Organising Committee Chief Suresh Kalmadi looks towards the crowd during the women's 4 x 400 metres medal ceremony at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium during day nine of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games on October 12, 2010 in Delhi, India.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Suresh Kalmadi was implicated in the 2010 Commonwealth Games scam

In a shock move earlier this week, the Indian Olympic Association named politicians Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Chautala as life presidents. The move came under fire from several prominent figures and entities, among them Indian Youth and Sports Minister Vijay Goel and former minister Ajay Maken, given that both Kalmadi and Chautala stand accused of fraud and corruption.

Maken and Goel are not the only ones to protest. Indian Hockey Federation president Narinder Batra strongly condemned the move, threatening to resign if Chautala was appointed. 

But upon questioning, the IOA defended its decision, describing it as a “constitutionally legitimate decision.” It also attempted to reiterate the fact that the post of Lifetime President is nominal and honorary, claiming this left neither Kalmadi nor Chautala with any power to make decisions. 

The IOA’s decision, however, is surprising not in the least considering Kalmadi and Chautala have both had significant run-ins with the law in the past. Kalmadi’s case is perhaps the more stark given his corruption came to light during his tenure as the President of the IOA, during which time India hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

Kalmadi and the Commonwealth Games

India’s top police investigative agency, the CBI, began investigating Kalmadi for his ‘suspicious conduct’ during the 2010 Commonwealth Games. At that time, investigations revealed that Kalmadi was near omnipotent in the organizing committee, including in the award of contracts to specific firms during the Games. He was found to have selectively awarded a number of these contracts, following which he was sacked from his party, the Indian National Congress, and lost his post as the President of the IOA. 

Serving 10 months of a jail term, Kalmadi then received permission from a court in New Delhi to travel to London for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. Eventually, the Delhi High Court prevented him from participating; Kalmadi has since claimed to have had dementia whilst in jail. 

Chautala and corruption

Career politician Abhay Chautala, also a former president of the IOA, is descended from a dynasty of politicians in Haryana, and stands accused in a disproportionate assets case. Chautala, the son of Indian National Lok Dal chief Om Prakash Chautala, was granted bail by the Delhi High Court earlier this year for traveling to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics in violation of an order disallowing him from leaving the country without court-ordained permission. 

Chautala’s assets, as per CBI investigations, have been found to ‘far exceed’ his legal income, but the politician has claimed innocence, now going on to say that a ‘majority of IOA members’ had voted for him to be made a lifetime president. 

Kalmadi, through his attorney, has now said through his lawyer, Hitesh Jain, that he will “not be accepting the post until his name is cleared of all corruption charges.” 

The IOA is yet to respond.

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