Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Sports Minister E P Jayarajan today courted controversy again after Olympian and Arjuna awardee Anju Bobby George accused him of insulting her with "corruption" charges.
Anju Bobby George. Pic/PTI
Anju, President of Kerala Sports Council, has also complained to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan regarding the issue. The athlete, who made history after she won a medal in the World Championships in Athletics in 2003, said she had gone to meet the Sports Minister along with the Council Vice President on June 7 after the new government came to power.
Anju was appointed as the Council President by the previous UDF government. "We thought he will ask us about the status of sports in Kerala. In the first meeting itself, the minister said 'you all are elected members by the previous ministry. So you all are other party members... All transfers and appointments you are doing are illegal'," Anju told PTI quoting the minister.
The athlete said the minister also objected to the flight tickets availed by her from Bengaluru, where she is based, to Thiruvananthapuram for attending the Council meetings. She said the minister had told her 'This is all against rules. I can stop all this'. The veteran long jumper said she had given a representation to the previous government for permitting her to avail airfare and the same had been accepted.
"The minister said 'this is all corruption'," Anju said. Anju said that besides her, Preeja Sreedharan, Indian Hockey captain P R Sreejesh and Kerala Cricket Association President, T C Mathew, are other members of the Council. "The minister said that all of us are involved in corruption. We are not acting for any political party. Sports is our party. I am not a member of Congress, Communist or BJP.
"We are doing our duty. If the government is not ready to accept that, they can ask us to leave. But instead, calling all of us as corrupt was not acceptable," she said. Asked if she planned to quit her post, Anju said she had not taken a decision yet.
"We are sportspersons. I have a duty to inform the Chief Minister about the minister's behaviour," she said. Jayarajan, however, denied the charge and said Anju had parted "very happily" after meeting him. Asked about her charge, the state Sports Minister said he had not behaved rudely.
"No, never," he told reporters. He said he was not aware that the athlete had complained to the Chief Minister. The minister had kicked up a row after he described legendary boxing champion Mohammed Ali as a sportsman from Kerala during his obituary reference.