“Just get the work done,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh interrupted sports minister M S Gill who wanted to make a presentation on the preparations for Commonwealth Games, during a cabinet meeting on Friday.
Just as Gill sought to explain the preparations, “a couple of ministers wondered what was the purpose of it all,” said a minister who was present in the meeting. The PM agreed with them and told Gill to forget the presentation and focus on the work.
Government sources said that the PM's harsh reaction came from the fact that he felt that he, along with the government, had been misled about the level of preparations for the Games.
In a review meeting on Thursday evening, the prime minister came down heavily on Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and union urban development minister S. Jaipal Reddy, government sources told HT.
The PM brushed aside Dikshit’s explanation that the unforeseen rains had interrupted the plans. “Your are said to be the super CM, no?” the PM asked the CM, according to a source.
Turning to Reddy, the PM wondered whether he recalled the discussion in parliament on the unsatisfactory preparedness.
A senior government functionary said the OC had misled the officials into believing that all preparations at the main village were over.
“They were taken to one tower which was done up. The government, including the PM, was taken by surprise at the complaints about the village raised by the participating countries,” he said. Meanwhile, the union government added at least 10 more senior officials to the list of 11 joint secretary level officers who were deployed to supervise the preparations.
Prithviraj Chavan, minister of state in the prime minister’s office, said the PM had directed all those involved in Commonwealth Games preparations that everything should be done to ensure its success. "With only a few days left, the Prime Minister took personal initiative saying that no stone should be left unturned to see that we successfully conduct the Games," Chavan said.
Chavan sought to downplay the absence of Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi at the PM’s meeting, which was attended by Gill, Dikshit and Delhi Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna. “The PM had called all the departments of government and OC does not fall in the category," Chavan said.