New Delhi: The CBI on Monday arrested sacked CWG Organising Committee Chief Suresh Kalmadi on charges of cheating, conspiracy and corruption in connection with awarding some Games contracts.

The ruling Congress, however, wasted no time in suspending the Lok Sabha MP from Pune.

Six months after the end of the New Delhi Commonwealth Games that was mired in controversies and scams, the CBI finally closed in on 66-year-old Kalmadi, the CWG's public face, arresting him for allegedly awarding illegal contracts to a Swiss firm for Timing-Scoring-Result (TSR) system for the Games causing a loss of Rs 95 crore to the exchequer.

A beleaguered Kalmadi's arrest was announced after his more than four hours questioning at the CBI headquarters, his fourth since December last, over the alleged irregularities related to the award of contract to Swiss Timekeeping and the Queens Baton Relay (QBR).

The probe agency also arrested two other OC officials Surjeet Lal, Deputy Director General (Procurement) and A S V Prasad, Joint Director General (Sports) in the same case.

Kalmadi, who came to the CBI headquarters here in the morning, was arrested at 1530 hours, a senior CBI official said.

Kalmadi, an MP from Pune, and the two other officials will be in CBI custody on Monday night and they will be produced in a court on Tuesday.

The CBI registered a case under Section 120B (conspiracy) read with Section 420 (cheating) IPC and other relevant sections of Prevention of Corruption Act in the case, an official said.

"The CBI has on Monday arrested the then Chairman of OC of Commonwealth Games-2010 for conspiracy to cause favour to a private firm based in Switzerland in awarding the contract for Timing, Scoring and Result system at an inflated cost of Rs 141 crore," CBI spokesperson Dharni Mishra told reporters.

CBI officials said the entire procedure to award the contract to the firm-- Swiss Time Keeping- was pre-meditated and even the OC officials who toed the line of Kalmadi and other officials were selected to remain in furtherance of the deal while the ones who did not toe their line were "thrown out".

The CBI alleged that "officials of the Organizing Committee had conspired with representatives of the private firm in Switzerland and the contract for timing, scoring, result was awarded by wrongfully restricting and eliminating competition from other suppliers in pre-meditated and planned manner.

Investigation has also revealed that members of the tenders evaluation committee were coerced and threatened to disqualify other bidders. It also showed that Indian
representatives of the favoured supplier were in regular contact with the three arrested Organizing Committee officials much before the award of tender, the spokesperson added.

CBI officials said while Kalmadi's signatures were on all documents as he was the head of the executive board of the OC, they were not going by what the board approved but by circumstantial evidence and testimonies of witnesses.

The officials said during their investigations they found that the firm that lost the bid for TSR against Swiss Time Keeping-- MSN Spain-- had provided similar service during the Asian Games which were held recently at Guangzhou.

Cong cracks whip on Kalmadi

Shortly after Kalmadi's arrest was announced, AICC general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said the Congress has suspended Kalmadi.

"The DAC of the party has suspended Suresh Kalmadi," party Dwivedi said, indicating thereby that the leadership swung into pro-active mode to limit the damage after Kalmadi's arrest.

The axe fell on the 67-year old Lok Sabha member from Pune with the party's Disciplinary Action Committee (DAC) headed by senior leader A K Antony deciding his suspension.
 
Kalmadi is the first Congress MP to face suspension since the UPA-II government came to power in May 2009. Rebel member Y S Jaganmohan Reddy was served a showcause notice for anti-party activities after which the former Kadapa MP from Andhra Pradesh had himself resigned.

Dikshit prefers to keep mum

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit refused to react on the arrest of sacked CWG Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi by CBI. She chose not to respond when asked about Kalmadi's arrest.

Immediately after conclusion of the Games last October, Dikshit had said the "suspicion" of corruption in the Commonwealth Games was on the Organising Committee headed by Kalmadi.

Dikshit had said the corruption could have taken place in the activities undertaken by the Organising Committee to which the Central government had given loans to the tune of Rs 1,600 crore.

Later Kalmadi, pointing an accusing finger at Dikshit, had said all those involved in preparation of the event should be summoned by CBI.

Kalmadi's arrest "belated": BJP

Describing the arrest of sacked CWG Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi as "belated", the BJP demanded action against other culprits as well.

"Kalmadi's arrest is a right step taken belatedly," BJP national general secretary Ravi Shanker Prasad told reporters here. "But why only Kalmadi? All those responsible and involved in the Rs 70,000 crore scam should be brought to book and punished," he said.

"Who did all these irregularities and why an inquiry is not being conducted against them," he asked. The BJP leader alleged that maximum funds were released by the officials in the Prime Minister's office. "Besides, action against those responsible, we demand a charge sheet with concrete evidences be filed in the case," he said.  

BJP's Vijay Goel demanded the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit since she has been indicted by the Prime Minister-appointed V K Shunglu Committee that probed the games.

Pressure mounts on IOA to elect new chief

Meanwhile, pressure mounted on the Indian Olympic Association to elect a new president following the arrest of Suresh Kalmadi on CWG corruption charges even as the sports apex body planned to meet in a couple of days to take stock of the situation.

Sports Ministry fired the first salvo by asking the IOA to elect a new president while an organisation fighting to clean up sports said the arrest would help in kickstarting reforms in sports.

A pall of gloom descended at the IOA Bhawan, the headquarters of the apex sports body, as the news broke out about Kalmadi's arrest, but none of the officials were willing to give a reaction.

The Sports Ministry wants the IOA to elect a new president in place of Kalmadi as it feels a person who has been arrested or charge-sheeted should not head any organisation.

"The person who is in jail or who has been charge-sheeted, it would not be in the national interest that he should represent the country anymore. As soon as official confirmation of his arrest comes, we are going to request the IOA to elect someone," Sports Minister Ajay Maken told reporters.

IOA sources indicated that the sports ministry's letter regarding a new president would come up for discussion when the IOA meets.

(JPN/Agencies)