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Is it curtains for high-flier Kalmadi?

Monday April 25, 2011 07:40:47 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Suresh Kalmadi's arrest Monday for alleged irregularities in the award of contracts for 2010 Commonwealth Games seems to have put the the skids on the controversial career of a political high-flier, who began his innings as a member of the Sanjay Gandhi brigade in the 1970s.

"Kalmadi has been a medal winner in both politics and sports administration for decades, being in the good books of top leaders as different as Sanjay Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Narasimha Rao and Sonia Gandhi. But the current case appears to have brought his meteroic rise down," said political analyst K. Sreekumar.

The Pune-based Kalmadi, who is the president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), has declared assets worth several crores of rupees, sourcing them to his business activities.

Kalmadi, 66, was the minister of state of state for raliways in the Narasimha Rao government in the 1990a. He is a seventh-term parliament member -- four times in the Rajya Sabha and thrice in the Lok Sabha.

He is the second Lok Sabha member to be arrested in a corruption cases in recent months. Former telecom minister A. Raja was arrested in the 2G scam case in February.

Kalmadi was arrested Monday under Sections 120 B and 420 (criminal conspiracy and cheating) of the IPC in the Time Scoring Equipment scam in the Commownealth Games held here from October 3-14 last year. He was removed as the chief of the CWG organising committee soon after the Games were over.

Currently representing the Pune Lok Sabha constituency, Kalmadi quit as secretary of the Congress Parliamentary Party in November in the wake of the allegations of corruption in the media. The Congress suspended him on Monday, hours after his arrest.

Born in 1944 in Pune, the energetic Kalmadi was selected for the prestigious National Defence Academy at the age of 16. An Indian Air Force pilot for eight years, Kalmadi left the service in 1972.

Though he joined the Congress under the influence of then prime minister Indira Gandhi's son Sanjay Gandhi, he soon became the trusted lieutenant of Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar.

Kalmadi remained with Pawar when the Maratha leader engineered a split in the Congress in the late 1970's and was rewarded with the post of the chief of the youth wing of the Congress(S).

Kalmadi returned to Congress with Pawar, but switched his loyalities to Narasimha Rao. Since then, the mentor and the protege have been at loggerheads.

A sports enthusiast, Kalmadi got a foothold in as a sports administration when he was elected as president of the Amateur Athletics Federation of India in 1989. Within seven years, he rose to become the president of the Indian Olympic Association in 1996. Though he received bouquets for his dynamism in conducting several international sports events, he found himself at the receiving end in the last few years as Several sportspersons accused him of running a "sports mafia".

Kalmadi also made it to the top of the Asian Athletic Association and the Athletic Association of India.

He was elected the chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (CGOC) and despite all the controversies, the Games were a big success and received high praise from the visitors.

The two-member Shunglu Commission, constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which conducted an inquiry into the Commowealth Games, had indicted Kalmadi for "running the organising committee like a club." The commission had said the Kalmadi-led OC took several improper and illegal decisions, causing a loss of billions of rupees to the public exchequer.







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