Around 12 hours ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s arrival at the CBI’s swank new headquarters at Lodhi Road for its inauguration on Saturday, one of its occupants, Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC)’s former chairman Suresh Kalmadi was “sent off” temporarily.
Kalmadi, who was arrested by CBI on Monday, in relation to irregularities in award of the OC’s Timing, Scoring & Results (TSR) system contract to a Swiss firm, was temporarily sent away to the agency’s old headquarters. The presence of Kalmadi, Pune’s Lok Sabha MP who was suspended hours after his arrest by the Congress party, at the CBI’s state-of-the-art 11-storeyed “green” headquarters could have been “an embarrassment for the PM”, said a source, not authorised to speak to the media.
Since Monday, Kalmadi was put up in one of the one-room “lock-ups” at the new building that is centrally air-conditioned and was built in 36 months at the cost of R186 crore by National Buildings Construction Corporation Limited.
Singh, in his speech, spoke of the “problem of corruption and the growing impatience of our people to see quick action for tackling it”. Though the PM in did not name Kalmadi, the CWG corruption scams, or the 2G scam, he spoke of the “many high-profile cases of corruption” being probed by the CBI “that have attracted a great deal of public attention”.
The PM said, “The handling of these cases constitutes a litmus test for you. What is expected of you is thorough investigation, fair action and quick results. The CBI should act without fear or favour and bring to book all those who are guilty, irrespective of their position or status.” Lauding the CBI as an “independent, professional and competent investigating agency” Singh however reminded the officials that there was “room of improvement”.
CBI Director Amar Pratap Singh, who welcomed the PM and other Central ministers including home minister P Chidambaram, said the agency got a “home of its own after 70 years”. The director said that the new building combines aesthetics with “conducive work environment”.