The Kerala LDF government’s new Sports Minister EP Jayarajan first rose to national fame last week for all the wrong reasons.
That happened when Jayarajan described boxing legend Muhammad Ali as a Kerala sportsman who won a gold medal for the state, when a TV channel called him for reaction after Ali’s demise.
Ignorance isn’t a crime.
The minister later clarified that it was a mistake.
The whole episode was kind of funny and gave fodder to the social media pundits to make up stories on the minister.
But what isn’t funny is Jayarajan’s unwarranted outburst on Olympian Anju Bobby George, who made history after she won a medal in the World Championships in Athletics in 2003.
This is not something to laugh off like the Ali episode. On the contrary, it has the potential to create a major headache for the Pinarayi Vijayan-government. George’s charges against the minister, if true, are serious in nature.
The Olympian, who is also the president of Kerala Sports Council, has accused Jayarajan of insulting her with "corruption" charges and being a member of the “other party” — referring Congress-led UDF government — which had appointed George as the Council president.
Here’s what Anju’s version is: "We thought he will ask us about the status of sports in Kerala.
“In the first meeting itself, the minister said 'you are all 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.
Not just that, the Olympian added that the minister also objected to the flight tickets availed by her from Bengaluru, where she is based, to Thiruvananthapuram for attending the Council meetings. “This is all against rules. I can stop all this.”
The UDF-government had given her the airfare, which according to Jayarajan was “corruption”.
So, according to the minister, all of the council members are involved in some or the other corruption cases and are working with political interests, and hence they should be sacked. That's bunkum.
Jayarajan has denied all the charges and has said Anju “parted happily” after the meeting.
Well, going by what Anju said that is not what happened for sure. The Olympian indeed left the place, hurt and insulted by the minister.
The point is this. If Jayarajan feels and has evidence to show that the Sports Council president is corrupt, he should have issued an order to investigate the charges, including George’s Bengaluru-Thiruvananthapuram airfare issue, and not level immature accusations.
The sports minister has already given enough reasons for a debate on why he might not be the best for the job, given his last week’s Muhammad Ali remark.
Unsubstantiated allegations against sports personalities from the state, who have to first fight poverty before they can even compete in their sports field, are unfortunate. It will help only to bring shame to the Pinarayi-Vijayan government.