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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Jul 2014

Gill 'ready to face any inquiry', angry BJP walks out

IANS  New Delhi, August 10, 2010
First Published: 17:22 IST(10/8/2010) | Last Updated: 17:25 IST(10/8/2010)

The government was ready for "any kind of inquiry" into preparations for the Commonwealth Games (CWG), Sports Minister M S Gill said in the Lok Sabha Tuesday as a furious BJP walked out of the house claiming he had dishonoured parliament with his comments on the right to information (RTI).

"We have nothing to hide. We are ready for any kind of inquiry," Gill said in a statement on the Commonwealth Games to be held from Oct 3-14. 

The minister also said he had asked for a probe after a complaint from the Indian High Commission in London on alleged financial improprieties during last year's Queen's Baton Relay.

"I had asked my ministry to immediately ask the Enforcement Directorate to probe the matter," he said, responding to criticism on the delays in preparations for mega sporting event. 

"You know that several officials have been suspended. Why do you think it has happened? It is due to pressure from my ministry."

Gill, who interspersed his speech with colloquial Punjabi, said he was ready to take MPs to visit the completed stadiums.

"You will see how lavishly they have been constructed and their grandeur," he said, in an apparent justification for the cost overruns for the stadiums.

His speech was repeatedly interrupted by Janata Dal-United's (JD-U) Sharad Yadav, who asserted that Gill was not taking action against the allegations of corruption. He was joined by Bharatiya Janata Party members, who also heckled the minister. 

He stepped into trouble while talking about the cost of the stadiums, saying members should file a RTI application if they wanted more details.

This led Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj to get up and say angrily: "I had been listening quietly so far… But does this mean that the minister was saying that RTI is higher than parliament?"

She then led her party's MPs to walk out from the house. Gill, meanwhile, tried to intervene and said his words had been misunderstood. 

He said members should not be just talking about corruption, but also think about sportspersons who had been waiting for years to take part in the Games. 

"I am a tennis player so I think Vijay Amritraj is god and he told me that it was a shame that in this issue the views of the players who wanted to take part in the Games were not being taken."

The minister also named badminton world no 2 Saina Nehwal and world shooting gold medalist Tejaswini Sawant as expressing similar views.

Gill also said that the organisation of the Commonwealth Games entailed multiple authorities unlike the 1982 Asian Games. "In a single unity of command and authority, those games (1982 Asiad) were pulled through."

However, the situation was different in the current Commonwealth Games. "(In) these games we have to go by what the Commonwealth Games Federation put on us," he said.

The minister said the agreement on the Games was signed in Jamaica between the federation and the Indian government, the Delhi government as well as the Indian Olympic Association.

"There is a three-way division. Unlike 1982, this is the main difference I have seen in organisation," he said.


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