Games corruption charge shakes Indian politics


NEW DELHI: India’s main opposition party on Tuesday accused the government of corruption surrounding the just-finished Commonwealth Games, saying it would stall parliament next month unless an impartial probe was ordered.
The threat from the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) comes as the government struggles to find political support for tough reforms bills in parliament which opens on November 9. The government is also preparing for a visit by US President Barack Obama, who is also scheduled to address Indian parliament.
BJP chief Nitin Gadkari told a press conference that his party had evidence linking ruling Congress politicians and the office of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to Commonwealth Games corruption. An investigation into allegations of financial mismanagement by organisers and contractors resumed on Friday, a day after the Games — which spiralled to a cost of $6 billion from an original budget of $450 million — ended last week.
“Every time a revised budget was presented to the cabinet it was cleared,” Gadkari said. The October 3-14 Games, intended to show India as a rising global power, were crippled by corruption allegations, health and security issues and chronic mismanagement, forcing the central government to rescue the event and avoid national embarrassment.
Local media investigations in the run-up to the Games claimed to have found financial irregularities with companies contracted to provide services and products to the event, forcing Prime Minister Singh to promise a full probe after its conclusion.
As part of the ongoing investigation, over 200 officials from India’s Income Tax department searched homes and offices of several people, including BJP activist Sudhanshu Mittal and other Games contractors on Tuesday, Local media reported.