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PM invited me but I was busy, says Kalmadi

PM invited me but I was busy, says Kalmadi New Delhi: Pushed to the wall but defiant nonetheless, Commonwealth Games Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi has claimed that contrary to reports, he was invited by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the felicitation function for CWG medal winners but could not go due to his "busy" schedule.

Kalmadi was not seen at the PM's function as well as the felicitation ceremony for CWG medallists organised by Congress President Sonia Gandhi leading to speculation that he had been snubbed by his own party after the OC was accused of widescale corruption.

"Too much is being made out of that. I was busy seeing off the thousands of international athletes who had come for the Games. The chef de mission rang me to tell that we have to attend a function at the PM's residence but I told him that I cannot go because I was busy," Kalmadi told 'CNN-IBN'.

"I am not at all a persona non grata. I was seeing off athletes," he insisted.

With the government ordering a probe into the October 3 to 14 Games' expenses, Kalmadi has his back against the wall but he asserted that all of OC's decisions were taken collectively by an executive board.

"I have not taken any decision on my own," he said.

"It's good that a probe has been ordered because the Prime Minister had committed this to the Parliament and the public. We will give all the answers.

"I am not at all nervous. We have given great Games and we are ready to give the answers now," he added.

Asked whether the findings of the inquiry would trigger a storm that might blow him away, Kalmadi said, "The storm was much earlier but now that we have delivered a good Games, it's over."

Kalmadi once again hit out at Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for stating that the suspicion of corruption in the Games lay primarily on OC.

"I have kept quiet all along because my interest was to deliver a good Games but that should not be seen as a sign of weakness. Now that the Games are over, I shall speak out. I have already replied to Ms Dikshit that set your own house in order before pointing fingers at us.

"She had a budget of Rs 16,000 crore for construction related work and I had nothing to do with it. My budget was Rs 1,600 crore. I was not part of the construction work. She has to answer a lot for that," Kalmadi said.

"Everybody criticised me for the foot over-bridge collapse (near the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium) but that was not my business. The Delhi government and the PWD have to answer for that," he added.

"When the Prime Minister has ordered a probe, she doesn't have to say anything." Kalmadi said despite the messy build-up that brought India a lot of negative press worldwide, the country's Olympic dream is still alive.

"The whole world feels we should hold the Olympics. International Olympic Committee Chairman Jacques Rogge was impressed with the Commonwealth Games and wants India to host the Olympics. But we shall make an announcement only after the cloud over CWG is over.

"We will have to take the government into confidence. We are ready for it and definitely we will bid for the Olympics," he said.

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Sonali Chander
Sonali Chander
Sorry for the delays! Do you agree with Mr Gavaskar that Sehwag should have had his surgery before the the IPL so as not miss Windies tour? 2 years ago
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Trivia

The Thyagraj Sports Complex, which will host Netball during the 2010 Commonwealth Games, is India's first eco-friendly sports complex, it was constructed with bricks made up of fly-ash. The stadium has effective water management systems like rainwater harvesting, sewage treatment with two lakh litres a day capacity, dual flush systems, sensor-based faucets, etc.