Once bitten twice shy. Commonwealth Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi – on a sticky wicket following a probe into the alleged corruption and misappropriation of funds by COC – is staying away from organising the marathon in his home turf Pune.
The Pune international marathon – an annual feature for the last two decades and Kalmadi’s brainchild – will be held on December 5.
Kalmadi’s absence has surprised his colleagues from the marathon organising committee and the Congress party in particular. He had always been at the forefront in organising the Pune marathon every year.
A former Congress minister and close Kalmadi aid told Business Standard: “It was quite obvious that Kalmadi has preferred not to be associated with the Pune marathon against the backdrop of the recent controversy over the Commonwealth games. Had he been there it would have given an opportunity for his critics to fire yet another salvo against him. Besides, the Congress party is quite aloof as it does not want to be associated with Kalmadi at this juncture especially when the elections to the Pune Municipal Corporation are slated in 2011.”
He said the Congress high command has already accepted Kalmadi’s resignation from the post of secretary of the parliamentary party.
Kalamadi used to take centre stage in the organisation of Pune marathon but this year he kept himself away from Pune’s politics and social life. Since his return from China where he was attending the Asian Games, he is yet to visit Pune.
However, city Congress chief Abhay Chhajed hinted that Kalamadi was expected to attend the marathon on Sunday. Despite repeated attempts Kalamadi could not be reached.
However, the BJP and the Shiv Sena have been vocal on the issue of corruption and misappropriation of funds in the Commonwealth games. The saffron parties have criticised Kalamadi in the past and have decided to target him in and outside the state legislature. BJP president Nitin Gadkari has already released copies of official documents to prove his argument of embezzlement of funds by the CWG Organising Committee under the chairmanship of Kalamadi.