NATIONAL ECONOMY, SPORTS & CORRUPTION: PM ticks off Games ministers – Singh cuts short Gill’s presentation attempt – good pre-emptive move to avert a massive corruption scandal awaiting the nation that could maybe be UPA’s undoing ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY SANJAY K. JHA
FORWARDED BY GORKHS DAJU
New Delhi, Sept. 24: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today gave vent to his anger and anguish at the Commonwealth Games mess by telling the sports minister at a cabinet meeting that “this is the time for work”, not presentations, sources said.
The Prime Minister “is very angry” and “does not want to listen to any explanation” at this stage, according to the sources.
At the cabinet meeting today, Singh apparently rebuffed sports minister M.S. Gill who was trying to assure his colleagues that “there was no cause for worry”.
Gill wanted to make a presentation before the cabinet on the Games preparations but a source quoted the Prime Minister as saying: “There is no need for presentation now. This is the time for work.”
Many ministers felt Gill’s plan to showcase his “work and achievements” before the cabinet at this late hour was uncalled for and the Prime Minister rightly put him in his place.
One minister said: “The Prime Minister feels betrayed by some of his colleagues who did not correctly brief him on the preparations and now there are allegations that the government’s intervention was late and ineffective.”
Other sources said they could not recall an instance over the past six years when Singh appeared angry in this manner.
The Prime Minister also expressed his anguish last night at a meeting with urban development minister Jaipal Reddy, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and Gill after unflattering reports poured in about the Games Village.
A PMO official said: “The Prime Minister was angry and blasted these three. He told them that he was kept in the dark about the real picture. He said it was shocking that the whole country had been embarrassed because of the inefficiency of a few.”
Singh expressed his displeasure when these ministers tried to indulge in a blame-game and offer excuses.
He said there were clear instructions after the Parliament debate on the Games a month ago that matters should not be left to Suresh Kalmadi, but the group of ministers assigned the task of finishing the job could not rise to the occasion.
The sources said that while the Prime Minister asked Dikshit if she had no responsibility as Delhi chief minister, he told off Reddy for the delay in construction of stadiums.
Singh was unhappy with Gill’s overall performance and specifically mentioned the tendency to blame each other.
He asked the ministers to pull out all stops in the next few days.
Work is now being carried out on a war-footing and thousands of workers could be seen busy giving the finishing touches, even planting trees around the venues at this late hour.
The sources in the government contested the charge that the Prime Minister woke up late, recalling that the group of ministers headed by Reddy was set up a year ago. This was done precisely to overcome the wrangling between CWG officials, they said.
The Prime Minister had asked the group to meet on a weekly basis and complete work by March 2010.
Congress leaders admitted that “they are deeply worried” and heads would roll after the Games were over.
“Times have changed since the Asian Games were held. There was a proper system in place for CWG preparations and both the state and central governments were fully engaged. It will be wrong to blame the Prime Minister. But governmental failure cannot be overlooked, we will look into it after the Games,” a senior Congress leader said.