“Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me” - Unknown
Completely devoid of the frenzied white-noise that accompanies charges of corruption being traded between political parties and away from the earnest debates raging around us on whether the current President of India is the worst ever by a wide margin or only marginally so, a small little media report tucked away on a Page 10 caught my eye last week. It may have caught yours as well.
While we fret and frown at everyone from Bangaru, Quattrocchi and the well-deserved vacation by the President’s grand-children (is the exchequer paying for it?), Suresh Kalmadi is reportedly attempting to sneak back in through the back-door. The Doors, obviously did not have this in mind when they sang “Back Door Man” all those years ago; Kalmadi would do well to make a note of that.
His comeback attempt, clumsily surreptitious as it is, re-ignites the question of whether the “clerical error” which resulted in his name being included for Parliament roster duty earlier this year, was just a case of incompetent clerks or was it a trial balloon sent heavenwards to check how the winds of public perception were flying?
As reported in Indian Express and Times of India last week (See full report here), “Kalmadi moved the Supreme Court, challenging the executive guidelines - accepted by the Delhi High Court - which bar persons from occupying national sports federation, including the IOA, posts beyond 12 years. Kalmadi would be disqualified from contesting the IOA elections in October if the 12-year-rule comes into play.”
The man, by the way, has been the IOA chief since 1996; that's 16 years!
This outrageous attempt needs to be viewed through the lenses of what the HC had to say on this issue. A HC division bench headed by acting Chief Justice A K Sikri had asked Kalmadi if he would “exit gracefully” or “should the court issue a show cause notice to him as to why he should not be discontinued as president of IOA."
Does Kalmadi’s shamelessness know no bounds?
For those of us who may have forgotten the quantum of glory that the Commonwealth Games 2010 were tainted with, if such a taint can be quantified at all, this perceptibly boorish man at the helm of the affairs allegedly played a bit-role - if not the lead – in some terribly disingenuous plots involving misappropriation, as well as a loss to the exchequer, of a measly little 5000-8000 crores.
In fact, Part 1 of the CAG report (see highlights here) came up with damning statements last year, pertaining to “contract management by the OC” being “irregular and deficient”, besides stating that “the internal control environment and decision making structures within the OC were highly inadequate. The state of documentation in the OC was so inadequate that we are unable to derive assurances as to either the authenticity or the completeness of records”.
Records? What records? It amused me no end when I juxtaposed the above-mentioned sections of the CAG report with a report in The Hindu , 5 March 2012, which alleges that “A number of documents related to Commonwealth Games projects have either gone missing or are untraceable making tough the ongoing probe into alleged irregularities in conduct of the Games.”
This media report also went on to state that “ problems were being faced by officials of various probe agencies including the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax (IT) department.”
How many of us remember that these games boasted of the largest participation ever? How many of us remember that India wrapped up the games by achieving the highest ever ranking in the history of the games, finishing a respectable 2nd behind (by quite a distance) Australia?
On the other hand, how many of us remember Kalmadi and his alleged daylight robbery?
Under such circumstances, the question to be asked is whether Kalmadi is mocking the system again, a system which includes concepts like innocent till proven guilty, the right to appeal to a higher court and other such well-intentioned guide rails, as he attempts to sneak back into the IOA?
Or, will the Supreme Court put its foot down, and send him right back - with sufficient haste at that - into oblivion?
It is time that people in power, untroubled as they appear to be by anything so inconveniencing as a scruple, are disallowed hiding places within the folds of law in such a blatantly outrageous manner.
Enough is enough.