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07 December 2023

Delhi orders new Commonwealth Games probe


Delhi's newly elected chief minister on Thursday ordered a investigation into alleged corruption surrounding the scandal-tainted 2010 Commonwealth Games in the Indian capital, an official said.

Arvind Kejriwal asked the state anti-corruption bureau to investigate alleged irregularities in a deal by the previous Delhi state government to buy expensive imported street lights before the event.

"The Delhi government has reopened the case of CWG (Commonwealth Games) scams," said a spokesman for Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party.

Spokesman Dilip Pandey said Kejriwal had ordered a probe into the 310 million rupees ($5 million) contract for the lights.

The probe could put former chief minister and veteran Congress party leader Sheila Dikshit under the spotlight just as Congress, which rules at the national level, gears up for a general election due by May.

Dikshit, who was chief minister during the Games, has previously denied any wrongdoing over the event, which was marred by allegations organisers received kickbacks in handing out contracts for services and equipment.

The Games were meant to showcase India's status as an emerging global power. But the sporting headlines were stolen by venue delays, shoddy construction and budget overruns that saw the cost of the event triple to $6 billion.

Earlier on Thursday Kejriwal said he would not spare anyone involved in corruption, even if it meant losing the support of Congress.

His party relies on Congress at the state level for legislative support but they are rivals at the national level.

India's national auditor in 2011 accused the Delhi government of wasteful spending of at least $29 million during its "ill-conceived and ill-planned" programme to beautify the city before the Games.

After the Games, Congress party lawmaker Suresh Kalmadi was sacked as chairman of the Games organising committee, as police investigated claims organisers manipulated tenders and knowingly inflated costs.

Kalmadi, a former Indian Olympic Association chief, is currently on bail after spending 10 months in jail on charges of corruption.

Kejriwal's AAP party took office last month after Congress was routed at the elections in Delhi and three other states.

The AAP, born out of an anti-corruption movement that swept India two years ago, tapped into anger about everyday graft as well as scandals that have embroiled the national government.

The AAP is expected to contest the general election, which Congress is widely tipped to lose.