With the UPA government facing the heat over the Commonwealth Games fiasco, Union sports minister Ajay Maken on Tuesday chose to deflect the blame by claiming the NDA was responsible for appointing Suresh Kalmadi as the Organising Committee (OC) chairman.”The Host City agreement was signed in 2003 by the then NDA government and it clearly laid down the principle that the IOA (Indian Olympic Association) president would be the OC chairman. So where was the room to change that bid document?” Maken asked in his bid to absolve the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) which has drawn flak over Kalmadi’s appointment in the latest CAG report.Maken went to the extent of blaming the NDA government of “hijacking” the opportunity to sign the Host City agreement from the Delhi government, which he said gave rise to “the mother of all problems”. But this does not absolve his own UPA government of putting the seal of approval on Kalmadi’s appointment as OC chairman and also charting his responsibilities and core duties, which had later come into conflict with the then sports ministers – late Sunil Dutt and Mani Shankar Aiyar.A communiqu from the PMO (under the UPA government) dated December 6, 2004 and coming from the desk of the then officer on special duty, Rohit Khera, clearly said: “An Organising Committee and Executive Board responsible for the conduct of the Games and formulation of sub-committees will be chaired by Suresh Kalmadi, President IOA.” The direction issued by the Manmohan Singh government further made it clear that the OC had to deal with the Government of India through the sports ministry and the Delhi administration.”The composition of the OC will be decided by the GoM (group of ministers) or by the PM taking into account the suggestions of its chairman (Kalmadi),” the PMO communiqu had stated then.This had subsequently triggered a turf war between Kalmadi and three successive sports ministers – Dutt, Aiyar and M. S. Gill. The three sports ministers had repeatedly warned the Prime Minister against the structure and working of the CWG Organising Committee headed by Kalmadi. The same has been cited by the CAG report as having been “overlooked” by the then government, resulting in the CWG “mess.” While Dutt had said the OC should be headed by a “government nominee” like the sports minister, his successor Aiyar had criticised it for “squandering” money.Gill had even alleged that the Executive Committee of the OC “rarely” met and endorsed “post facto decisions taken in a highly centralised manner”. The CAG noted that Kalmadi continued to “rule OC at will with his cohorts”, most of whom are with him in Tihar jail now. Asked to comment on Kalmadi’s appointment as OC chief despite Dutt’s opposition, a senior PMO official said: “We had gone by the rule and had kept the sports ministry and the government informed.advertisementThe general assembly of IOA had unanimously elected Kalmadi and the decision was communicated to the Commonwealth Games Federation and the government.” On November 14, 2004, Dutt, in a letter to the PM, had protested against Kalmadi’s election. He had claimed the IOA resolution appointing Kalmadi as OC chairman was “at variance” with the decision of the GoM. “The IOA was ‘aware’ that the GoM had agreed to appoint the sports minister as OC chairman for preparation and conduct of the Games,” Dutt had written.