Suresh Kalmadi has again resurfaced in national news after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) announced that it would be appointing him as one of its honorary lifetime Presidents. The other appointee is the controversial former President of the IOA and President of the Boxing Federation of India Abhay Singh Chautala. The move has been met with widespread outrage.
Suresh Kalmadi is a former Member of Parliament and former head of the Organizing Committee of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. His role in the Organizing Committee has been under stringent supervision following allegations of massive corruption. He is also a former President of the IOA, a role he was fired from after the CBI charged and arrested him in early 2011. After this, he spent ten months in Tihar Jail before being granted bail.
Here is the timeline of Kalmadi’s career:
1996: After three stints in the Rajya Sabha, Suresh Kalmadi elected to the 11th Lok Sabha from Pune.
1996 – 2012: Kalmadi is the President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the body responsible for selecting athletes to represent India at international athletic meets.
November 2003: India wins the bidding to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The subsequent Organizing Committee (OC) that is formed after many delays is headed by Kalmadi.
3 – 14 October 2010: The XIX Commonwealth Games take place in Delhi. The day after the conclusion of the Games, the Government announces the formation of a special committee to probe the allegations of corruption and mismanagement against the OC. The committee is given three months to submit a detailed report; however, the report is never released to the public.
5 January 2011: The CBI questions Kalmadi in connection with alleged financial irregularities in the preparation of the Games.
25 April 2011: The CBI arrests Kalmadi in the Timing-Scoring-Result (TSR) case. This case involved the awarding of an illegal contract for installing the Timing-Scoring-Result system to a Swiss firm at an unreasonably high cost of Rs 141 crore, allegedly causing a loss of over Rs 95 crore. Kalmadi is arrested under Sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code. He is sent to the Tihar Jail, and his membership of the Indian National Congress is suspended.
26 April 2011: IOA removes Kalmadi from his post of President.
20 May 2011: In a charge sheet filed in a special court, the CBI brands Kalmadi as the main accused in the TSR case. The charge sheet says “Kalmadi is the main accused as he was the person with all supreme powers. He had the supreme overriding powers in the Organising Committee of the CWG, 2010.”
July 2011: Kalmadi is diagnosed with dementia while in jail. The probe is hindered.
19 January 2012: After several attempts by Kalmadi’s lawyers and despite vocal opposition by the CBI, Kalmadi is granted bail by Delhi High Court. He leaves Tihar.
25 July 2012: The Delhi High Court restrains Kalmadi from proceeding to London to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, saying that his participation can cause “embarrassment” to the nation.
27 December 2016: In an unprecedented move, the IOA names Kalmadi and controversial President of the Boxing Federation of India Abhay Singh Chautala as its honorary lifetime Presidents.
The Logical Indian take:
The appointment of tainted politicians as honorary life Presidents of the IOA sets a negative precedent on how corrupt or corruption-charged public personalities are treated in India.
He was not allowed to attend the 2012 London Olympics because the Delhi High Court felt he would embarrass the nation. This appointment is an even greater embarrassment to the country.
There is outrage, with Sports Minister Vijay Goel calling the appointment “totally unacceptable”. Former Sports Minister Ajay Maken slammed the IOA’s decision, saying “There should be the pressure on IOA. All the members are related to political parties, and I would like to urge them to take back the decision.”
There is a desperate need to redefine the way we react to corruption in our country. Even though this is an honorary position, the appointments should be swiftly revoked since it will only reduce India’s credibility in the Sports world on a global stage.