Sponsors pull-out delivers jolt to CWG

Sponsors pull-out delivers jolt to CWG

New Delhi: Two state-run firms have withdrawn their sponsorship of the Delhi Commonwealth Games due to “negative publicity" of the event stemming from allegations of graft and mismanagement.

India, which hopes to showcase its growing global clout by staging a successful Games, is relying on state-run firms for sponsorship as private companies have largely stayed away.

Struggling to get the venues ready before athletes start arriving next month, the 3-14 October Games is also facing serious corruption charges, which has led to the suspension of three senior officials, while the treasurer has quit following a contract row.

The country’s biggest power producer, NTPC Ltd, has decided to scrap its Rs50 crore ($11 million) sponsorship deal and is seeking an audit of the Rs20 crore it has already paid.

“Our board has decided not to go ahead with the sponsorship because of the negative publicity," NTPC chairman and managing director R. S. Sharma told Reuters on Thursday.

State-run transmission utility Power Grid Corp of India has also decided to back out of its Rs10 crore commitment to the Games, its chairman S. K. Chaturvedi said.

A spokesman for the Games organising committee was not immediately available for comment.

National prestige

The event, the cost of which has risen more than 17.5 times over its initial estimates, lost its merchandising partner last week when the Indian company pulled out citing an inordinate delay in launching the products.

A government anti-corruption agency has identified 16 Games projects where large-scale irregularities are suspected while the state audit agency questioned the process followed in engaging some of the consultants.

With the event threatening to become a national embarrassment and tarnishing the image of the ruling Congress party, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has ordered probes into the corruption charges after a stock-taking meeting on Saturday.

Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Thursday echoed Singh’s views in her address to the party parliamentarians.

“The success of the Games is that of our country — not of any party or any individual...The prestige of the nation is involved," she said.

“I trust that as soon as the Games is over, the government will look into the allegations of malpractice and spare no one found to be involved in them."