97% say Games bosses have tarred India’s image: Poll

Those responsible for the Commonwealth Games  mess often blame the media for “overhyping” the situation, and argue that it does not truly reflect public sentiment. So we decided to ask our readers themselves what they thought. We did a quick online poll on Wednesday afternoon. And frankly, the sheer volume of the responses and the depth of the public outrage against the miscarriage of responsibility by the Organizing Committee and government officials surpassed our assessment.

Within eight hours of the questionnaire being put on the TOI website, over 17,500 people had voted — a huge response, even by the numbers online polls attract. (Commissioned surveys typically poll a few hundred.) And we hadn’t made a prior announcement of the poll in the newspaper or on the website.

An overwhelming 97% of the respondents believed that the Union and Delhi governments and the OC had tarnished the image of the country.

Even if you disregard OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi’s boast that the games would be the best ever and would have better infrastructure than the Beijing Olympics, you still hear many in government and the OC claiming that “minor” incidents like a bridge collapse or ceiling collapse won’t affect the games. But the public certainly does not think so. As many as 73% of the respondents felt that the situation was so grave it could no longer be salvaged.

We asked the readers who was the most responsible for the mess: Suresh Kalmadi, chief minister Sheila Dikshit, Union urban development minister Jaipal Reddy or sports minister M S Gill? We chose these names because, apart from the OC, various central and Delhi government agencies are involved in building the infrastructure for the games. Kalmadi may not be the person to blame for everything that has gone wrong with India’s preparation to host the Games, but public anger against him runs so deep that 73% of the respondents felt he was the one responsible for the mess. In fact, public fury against him has become viral — on Wednesday, he was the protagonist of many SMS jokes, some unprintable. In response to our question who was the most responsible, 19% blamed Sheila Dikshit, 5% pointed the finger at M S Gill and 3% at Jaipal Reddy.

Our poll also posed a basic question: Did it make sense for India to have had the Games? No, said 59% of the people who participated in the poll. This, in fact, was the mildest expression of anger by the readers.

The country has so far spent more than Rs 77,000 crore on preparations for hosting the Games, the costliest ever. Wouldn’t this money have been better spent on education, health and basic sports infrastructure? You said it! As many as 78% of the respondents said yes. – Timesofindia