Kalmadi hits back at Maken, calls for his resignation

New Delhi/Pune: Under pressure to drop his Olympic trip to London, a defiant Suresh Kalmadi on Saturday launched a vicious attack on Ajay Maken, accusing the Indian Sports Minister of carrying out a vilification campaign against him and called for his resignation for contempt of court.

A day after a Delhi court allowed Kalmadi to travel to London for the Olympics evoking sharp reactions, the veteran sports administrator lambasted Maken for interfering with the functioning of sports bodies and causing "groupism" in his first press conference since being released on bail.

Kalmadi also said it was unbecoming of Maken to react in such a way against the court`s decision and requested the Indian Prime Minister to ask for his resignation. He said the vilification campaign was meant to cause a split between the officials and athletes and jeopardise India`s medal prospects.

"I was quite shocked and dismayed to read Ajay Maken`s reaction to the Honorable Court`s decision to grant me permission to visit London for the forthcoming Olympic Games. In view of Mr Maken going against the court decision, which is quite unbecoming of a sports minister I request our prime minister to ask for Mr Maken`s resignation for making such comments and statements," Kalmadi said.

Maken, however, declined to comment, saying that he would not like to respond to a person who has been chargesheeted by the CBI and suspended by Congress party on corruption charges.

Asked about his stand on Kalmadi`s plans to attend the London Olympic Games, Maken said, "I still stand by my statement that he should not go to the Olympics as he still remains the president of the IOA and is yet to be cleared of the charges of corruption pending in the courts."

The IOA, on its part, sought to steer clear of the raging controversy and clarified that Kalmadi was not a part of its official delegation. "Suresh Kalmadi, MP is not a member of the IOA delegation to London Olympics. Indian contingent for the Games has been finalised a month back and Mr Kalmadi does not figure in it," Acting President V K Malhotra said in a statement.

Kalmadi accused Maken of interfering in the functioning of Sports Federations and causing "groupism" which will ultimately affect the performance of sportspersons in the Olympics.

"Mr. Maken threatening Indian Olympic Association (IOA) that he would try to ensure that I was not part of the Indian delegation, shows lack of knowledge about the functioning of autonomous sports bodies. I am attending the IAAF meeting coinciding with the London Olympics as a Council Member of the International Association of Athletic Federation (IAAF) and president of Asian Athletic Association. I don`t need any support from the Sports Ministry," said Kalmadi, who is currently on bail after spending nearly a year in Tihar jail following the CWG scandal.

"Therefore, the union sports minister`s charges that my participation in Olympics will kill the basic spirit of Olympics, shows Mr Maken?s total disregard to the spirit of the games," he added.

Kalmadi said that he was innocent till proven guilty and it was unfair for people to raise questions about his travel to London on the invitation of international athletics body. "All said and done, Mr Maken seems to forget that it was in my tenure as IOA president that India bagged maximum number of medals in both the Commonwealth and Asian Games. The Commonwealth Games Federation had stated in its report that the Delhi Commonwealth Games was the best games ever."

"I have been elected unanimously to the IOA three times, it shows the faith of the sports body. As per law I am innocent till found guilty. In my bail application it has been clearly stated in the Honorable High Court that no financial trail has been proved against me. No allegation of corruption has been proved," insisted Kalmadi.

}