Games chiefs Suresh Kalmadi and Lalit Bhanot sacked

Suresh Kalmadi outside his Delhi home on 24 December 2010 Suresh Kalmadi has denied corruption allegations

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Suresh Kalmadi, the beleaguered chairman of the Delhi Commonwealth Games organising committee, has been sacked with immediate effect.

The new sports minister, Ajay Maken, also removed Lalit Bhanot as secretary general "in the interest of impartial and unhindered investigations".

Both men have been under investigation about alleged financial malpractice in connection with last October's event.

Mr Kalmadi and Mr Bhanot have both denied any wrongdoing.

Investigators' complaints

The move came after India's top investigative agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), formally complained that Mr Kalmadi and Mr Bhanot were trying to obstruct its fraud inquiry.

Mr Kalmadi has been asked to hand over to Jarnail Singh, chief executive officer of the organising committee.

The sports minister, who took the job last week, was quoted by India's CNN-IBN television as saying: "In the light of the concerns expressed by the CBI and in the interest of impartial and unhindered investigations, it has been decided to remove Kalmadi... with immediate effect."

Delhi Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in October 2010 Suresh Kalmadi and Lalit Bhanot were loudly booed during the event's opening and closing ceremonies

Mr Maken added: "We sought legal advice from the attorney general and we were told that we could do it. So we have done it."

Mr Kalmadi resigned from a Congress party position in November, weeks after the government ordered an inquiry into allegations of financial irregularities in the awarding of contracts for the Games.

Three other senior officials from the Games organising committee were arrested during the same month.

They are accused of forgery and cheating over the awarding of contracts before the event.

In December, the CBI searched Mr Kalmadi's homes in the capital, Delhi, and in the western town of Pune, and the home of his personal secretary.

Investigators also raided the home of Mr Bhanot and other locations.

The build-up to Delhi's Commonwealth Games was overshadowed by revelations of corruption, incompetence and missed construction deadlines.

Mr Kalmadi and Mr Bhanot were loudly booed by spectators during the event's opening and closing ceremonies.

Up to $1.8bn (£1.1bn) of cash was swindled from the budget, according to complaints to the Central Vigilance Commission.

India's Congress party-led government has been battling allegations of sleaze in the past few months.

Party president Sonia Gandhi said recently that corruption was a disease in India.

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