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'Kalmadi proved India's truly incredible'

By Anuj Ismail and Soumabha Nandi
October 19, 2010 16:49 IST
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What do voters in Pune, a city he represents in the Lok Sabha, think of Suresh Kalmadi?

Anuj Ismail and Soumabha Nandi find out.

Suresh Kalmadi, a former Indian Air Force pilot, has been elected thrice to the Lok Sabha.

Last year, he retained the Pune Lok Sabha seat by about 25,000 votes, defeating Anil Shirole of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

In his constituency, one encounters Punekars who believe Kalmadi did a fine job of organising the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Dr Satish Desai, official spokesperson for the Congress party in Pune, believes, "Kalmadi has done an extraordinary job. He has undoubtedly proved his mettle."

If you think that is a partisan view, consider what social worker Datta Sagare feels. "The Delhi Commonwealth Games," he says, "has outdone all other Commonwealth Games to date. Kalmadi showcased a different India and proved the country is truly incredible."

Aspiring sprinter Rohan Darwatkar disagrees. "Politicians like Kalmadi are responsible in ensuring corruption is an integral part of the sports scene. Consequently, the future for young sportspersons like us is always uneasy."

So does corruption go hand-in-hand these days with sport in India?

S Khandekar, a sports teacher at a reputed institute in Pune, feels, "If politics and sports are really independent of one another, then India would be a successful nation in terms of sports. There is immense talent."

Did the media sensationalise the issue and attack Kalmadi without reason, we asked.

Shreya Neogi, an IT professional, feels Kalmadi did fall prey to the media, but adds that the media is not the sole villain as there is no smoke without fire.

Jyoti Nalawade, a mass communication student, says, "Let us not get into the details of whether the issue has been blown out of proportion. For the media, bad news is good news. The organisers should tread cautiously -- they are public figures and their faults will naturally be highlighted."

Sougata Ghosh, a volunteer at the Commonwealth Youth Games, 2008, points out, "The discrepancies surrounding the management of the Commonwealth Games prior to the event reflected a rather poor picture of the managerial abilities of stalwarts in India in conducting events of international prestige."

However he believes, "At the end of the Games, there was something tangible for Indians to take home. The Games will act as a podium for India to host the Olympics."

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Anuj Ismail and Soumabha Nandi

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