The former chairman of the Common Wealth Games (CWG) organising committee and city MP, Suresh Kalmadi, was finally granted bail after spending almost nine months in jail. The Delhi High Court issued the release order of Kalmadi, a prime accused in the CWG scam, yesterday morning.
Kalmadi was sent to Tihar Jail in April after allegations of irregularities in his functioning as the chairman of the CWG organising committee. The news of his release elicited mixed reactions from major political parties in the city. If the BJP termed his release the last ditch-effort of the Congress to avoid a humiliating defeat in the upcoming civic polls, the NCP opined that it was not Congress decision to get Kalmadi acquitted on bail, on the contrary, it is honourable court's decision.
Branding the CBI as the Congress' personal agency, the BJP city chief Vikas Mathkari said, "The CBI has always been making a defensive stand for Kalmadi and the incident of getting the bail, when the PMC elections are round the corner, once again proved that the CBI is pro-Congress agency."
Mathkari added that voters in the city were aware about the serious charges made against Kalmadi, so his release would barely benefit the Congress. "Why the Congress party only suspended Kalmadi and not removed him from the party?" asked Mathkari.
The NCP called Kalmadi's release the sole decision of the judiciary. NCP city chief Ankush Kakade said, "Kalmadi was currently suspended from the Congress. Whether the Congress allows him to campaign for the party in the civic polls is their internal matter."
As far as the NCP's electoral prospects is concerned, Kalmadi's presence or absence hardly makes any difference to them, said Kakade. "In fact his release will help us get clear majority in the upcoming PMC and PCMC polls," said Kakade.
But political observers have a different take on it. According to them, Kalmadi's release may boost the morale of party cadres and a frail-looking Congress may come off with flying colours in the ensuing civic polls in the city and Pimpari-Chinchwad.
Political analyst Nitin Birmal said, "Kalmadi will now revive his own network in the city which may create problem for the NCP." Birmal added that Kalmadi is seen as a non-Maratha leader who had created the trust bank with Muslims and OBC voters. Though the Congress has suspended him, he may turn out to be a knight in shinning armour for the party.
Senior Congress leader Patangrao Kadam said, "The party is happy with the judiciary's decision. The decision of accepting him back in the party will be taken by the All India Congress Committee, it is not the city unit's call." Kalmadi detractor and Congress state spokesman Anant Gadgil said, "He is not in the party now, so it prudent not to say anything about him."