Sheila Dikshit: Coming Clean

Suresh Kalmadi: Messing up

The Delhi Government came in for much flak just before the Commonwealth Games. There were millions of allegations of mismanagement and corruption flying around. Through all those unsavoury storms, Delhi’s Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit remained a picture of calm and dignity. And now, the air is slowly clearing, the worst is over.

As it turned out, the highly disorganized Organizing Committee of the Commonwealth Games was the major culprit. It functioned independently, and took a series of unwise decisions. Some people were using the opportunity to fatten their private kitties, unmindful of the impact that their shoddy preparations were having on a watching world.

These days the Central Bureau of Investigation—India’s federal level crime fighting body—regularly goes about conducting raids and searches on members of the OC. Even the thick-skinned Suresh Kalmadi, the chairman of the OC, is not being spared. The rot in the CWG began at the very top, it was evident from day one. Yet the OC was allowed to wreak havoc with the preparations, and perpetrate numerous scandals. Only at the 11th hour did the Indian Prime Minister step in to take charge, and try and go on damage control mode. But by then India’s image had taken some serious body blows.
On her part, the Delhi CM too made hasty arrangements to counter the poor management of the OC as well as the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). This is an organization whose functioning has been kept out of the purview of the state Government of Delhi, and is answerable only to the Central Government’s Ministry of Urban Development and to Indian Parliament. The DDA was in charge of the Games Village that received unsolicited attention for having messed up on several fronts.
It was on the intervention of the CM that both sanity and sanitation got restored to the Games village, hours before the Games took off. Quite rightly, she took credit for having taken interest in an area where the DDA had failed to deliver. But it did not go down too well with the Lt Governor of Delhi (the ex-officio Chairman of the DDA).

These days, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has joined the CBI and is also out to rip the OC apart for having bypassed rules and regulations with mindless impunity and having awarded contracts to favourite parties. The exchequer and the tax payers have lost huge amounts, and the Indian public is waiting to see who are the ones that land up in jail. Will Kalmadi’s turn come? Already, a few of the OC top brass are in CBI custody, and some have been sent to jail for looting India’s coffers, and tarnishing the country’s image.

It was a rough ride for the CM. But now, things are settling back. Weathering storms is nothing new to Sheila Dikshit. Each time, though, she shows she can bounce back. And in the last decade she’s only moved from strength to strength. The electorate has not found no one worthier to bring back to power in the state of Delhi.

—Bureau report

January 2011

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