New Delhi, Jan 24 (PTI) Embattled Suresh Kalmadi wastoday sacked as the Chairman of the CWG Organising Committeeto enable an "unhindered" probe into alleged corruption,bringing an unceremonious end to his tenure which was plaguedby scandals and controversies.
Kalmadi''s close aide Lalit Bhanot was also removed as theSecretary General of the OC with immediate effect, almostthree months after the sporting extravaganza was held hereamid a spate of unsavoury controversies.
The decision to remove the two top officials was taken bythe new Sports Minister Ajay Maken after taking legal opinionfrom the the Attorney General.
Maken, who took charge of the Ministry barely five daysago from M S Gill, said that both Kalmadi and Bhanot have beenremoved in light of the ongoing investigation by the CentralBureau of Investigation (CBI) over allegations of corruptionand irregularities in organisation and conduct of CommonwealthGames.
"In the light of the concerns expressed by the CBI and inthe interest of impartial and unhindered investigations, ithas been decided to remove Kalmadi from the position of theChairman of the Organising Committee and the position ofChairman, Executive Board of the organising, CWG, withimmediate effect", Maken said.
But a defiant Kalmadi made it clear that he will notstep down from his other post of Indian Olympic AssociationPresident. He also said he will react to his ouster as OCChairman only after getting the letter in this regard.
Kalmadi has been directed to handover charge to JarnailSingh, Chief Executive Officer of the Organising Committee,who is also a Member of the OC''s Executive Board, Maken said.
He said that it had also been decided to remove LalitBhanot from the position of Secretary General of theOrganising Committee and from the position of SecretaryGeneral, Executive Board of the Organizing Committee withimmediate effect with directions to handover charge to JarnailSingh until further orders.
Both Kalmadi and Bhanot had refused to quit when thescandals had broken out in the run-up to the mega event,maintaining that they had not done anything wrong.
Asked whether Kalmadi will also be removed as thePresident of Indian Olympic Association (IOA), Maken said"We have sought legal opinion from the Attorney General, andwe are in the process of seeking legal opinion whenever andwhichever places necessary. We will take action only afterseeking legal opinion." More PTI MRM
Kalmadi, on his part, said the investigations did not have any bearing on his role as IOA President.
"It has nothing to do with the Indian OlympicAssociation. The IOA General Body meeting will be held inRanchi on February 12", he told reporters in Ranchi where hehad gone in connection with the upcoming National Games.
Kalmadi refused to give a direct reply to the suddendevelopment. "Earlier also I had said that I am ready for anenquiry and it is going on. I can''t say much", he said.
Maken said that he had been discussing the issue with theAttorney General since the past few days.
"After a series of discussions with the AG in past fewdays, we took this decision. This morning, we had a meetingwith the Attorney General and he advised us that we can goahead with the removal. So, accordingly we removed both theofficials", he said.
"CBI had asked for the removal of Kalmadi and others inconnection with the Games. CBI, during its investigation, madesome strong observations against Kalmadi", Maken said.
The Kalmadi-led Organising Committee has also beenaccused by Australian and British companies of delayingpayments to them for services rendered during the ooctober 3to 14 event.
Maken had given a ten-day ultimatum to the governmentnominees in the Organising Committee to sort out the paymentdisputes and ensure that all the legitimate bills are cleared.
"We have asked the OC officials to make outstandingpayments to the foreign companies involved with theorganisation of the Commonwealth Games. We have asked them tothoroughly verify the accounts and make legitimate payments tothem (companies).
Shortly after the scandal-hit Games came to an end,Central Vigilance Commission and Central Bureau ofInvestigations (CBI) started its probe in the CommonwealthGames.
The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also constituted ahigh-level committee headed by V K Shunglu to probe CWGcorruption allegations and asked it to give its report withinthree months.
Till date, the CBI has registered four FIRs namingsome of the close aides of OC chairman Kalmadi for allegedcriminal conspiracy and financial irregularities in executingcertain contracts.
The CBI had also questioned both Kalmadi and his aideBhanot and had raided their offices and residences inconnection with the probe.