New Delhi: Former sports minister Mani Shankar Aiyar has blamed former finance minister P. Chidambaram for not taking cognizance of his letters that warned about alleged embezzlement of funds earmarked for the Commonwealth Games.
Aiyar said that he wrote several letters to Chidambaram, who is now the home minister, but never got any acknowledgement.
'I don't know that these letters went to the finance minister at all,' Aiyar told CNN-IBN. 'But after one meeting of the group of ministers, where my insistence on observing the general financial rules (GFR) was overruled by the finance minister himself, I did write to Chidambaram.'
Aiyar said that in the letter he also asked the finance minister to directly release the funds instead of the sports ministry doing so.
'In that letter, I did say because I was so upset with the situation that instead of the sports ministry being asked to release these grants in violation of the GFR to Suresh Kalmadi-led Organising Committee, why not the finance ministry itself does it?' he said.
'And to the best of my memory, I may be wrong here, that letter was neither acknowledged nor acted upon,' he said, adding he had also expressed his concerns to the ministerial group that was set up to oversee the preparations for the Games.
'I think, you know, we must also remember that there was a group of people who were supervising all this. It was chaired by the late Arjun Singh, it included a number of ministers,' he said.
'My memory is, it was chaired by the human resource development minister and included the information and broadcasting minister, urban development minister, Planning Commission deputy chairman and the finance minister, besides himself.
'So this was the group to which I had taken in detail what my concerns were,' he said, recalling that he was alerted by Prithviraj Chauhan, then minister in Prime Minister's Office, that he should be careful while releasing funds for the Commonwealth Games.
'Well, in fact I was tipped off to the need to ensure that sanctions of authority were properly given by my immediate predecessor who was Sri Prithviraj Chauhan. He was the one who tipped me off within weeks of my becoming minister that something was rotten and that it was in my own best interest that I should check out what was happening,' he said.
'So I'm grateful to him for that. My secretary was a gentleman who was not in the public eye at that time, but has since gone renowned as one of the most able and honest Chief Election Commissioner we've ever had, that was S.Y. Quraishi and he shared all my concerns.'
During last week' interaction with the media, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had admitted that Aiyar was ideologically opposed to the games. Aiyar said that it was his responsibility to write to the prime minister warning him about the corruption in the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.
Earlier, Aiyar had told Headlines Today that the publication of his letters may refresh the prime minister's memory.
'I brought it to the attention of the prime minister, cabinet ministers and the group of ministers. I was overruled in the GoM by the finance minister. The seriousness of my charges was dismissed by the GoM,' he said.
'I didn't want to share a cell with Kalmadi in Tihar. It (the CWG fiasco) was entirely avoidable. But I will blame myself. My fault is I didn't carry the conviction,' he said.
'Everyone thought it was a personality clash,' he said, adding: 'My primary concern was ideological. Then I realised there was a great deal of financial impropriety.'