Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, exasperated by the chaos surrounding the Commonwealth Games, has slapped down his sports minister’s efforts to explain the mess, reports said Saturday.
All major Indian newspapers carried the same front page report based on clearly leaked details of a crisis meeting Friday between Singh and a number of senior ministers.
During the talks, Sports Minister M.S. Gill had attempted to give a briefing explaining how problems had arisen during preparations for the October 3-14 event, which the media has dubbed India’s “Shame Games”.
But Singh cut him short, saying the time for presentations was long past with barely more than a week remaining until the opening ceremony and serious questions remaining over the facilities, especially the athlete’s village.
The prime minister “literally threw up his arms in exasperation over the inability of those in charge to tackle even minor issues related to housekeeping”, one government source told the Indian Express.
“‘What is the problem?’, he asked those present, including Gill,” the source added.
Singh has been increasingly involved in sorting out the Games fiasco since Tuesday when the event seemed on the brink of collapse, amid worries about security, a bridge falling down and complaints about the “filthy” state of the village.
He has held a series of crisis meetings at the highest level in a bid to bring some focus to crucial remedial work that still remains to be done with athletes already arriving in New Delhi.
The leaked details of Friday’s meeting appeared aimed at publicly underlining the prime minister’s resolution to ensure that the Games — meant to showcase India’s superpower ambitions — are a success.
“PM Orders Clean Sweep” ran the headline in the Asian Age, similar to The Hindu’s “Get Your Act Together: PM”, while the Times of India went with “PM Snubs Gill”.