Friday, September 24, 2010

'CWG preparations have dented India's image'

With India’s preparedness for Commonwealth Games coming under intense international scrutiny and the organisers trying to finish work after long-past deadlines, Congress is worried over the image deficit it may cause the party and the government.

Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Friday admitted that shoddy preparations have dented the image of the country. “It is pretty depressing to read such things in the international media. India’s image has taken a beating,” Mr Ramesh told a private TV channel. “We are amongst the fastest growing economies. We could have done without this embarrassment,” he added.

International and national media have, over the past few days, focussed on “filthy” and “uninhabitable” conditions at the Games Village. Many in the party share Mr Ramesh’s views on the issue. Although the party has so far been successful in insulating itself from charges of corruption, there is fear that the CWG debacle would make it vulnerable to attack from its rivals.

“There is open criticism everywhere. The man on the street is saying why didn’t the government intervene earlier,” said a party leader who did not wish to be identified.

He also said that there were obvious comparisons on the show India put up in the 1982 Asiad Games and how the UPA government is struggling to put things together in 2010. “When we look back what will we remember of these games — that we struggled to finish work and there were corruption charges,” said the leader.

“I agree we should not have given anyone a chance to point a finger at us,” Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said. He, however, chose to see the recent criticism by sporting contingents as “stereotyping”.

Meanwhile, in Mumbai, Congress leaders have begun piling up pressure on the party to take action against Suresh Kalmadi. MPCC spokesman Anant Gadgil told a news agency that Mr Kalmadi, who brought “disgrace” to Maharashtra, should quit from all party posts.

“Leaders like Lokmanya Tilak, BR Ambedkar, YB Chavan and Shankarrao Chavan made Maharashtra proud in Delhi and the country. In the golden jubilee year of Maharashtra, Kalmadi has disgraced such leadership heritage and maligned the state’s image,” Mr Gadgil said.

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