Thiruvananthapuram: EP Jayarajan has courted controversy for the second time in the span of one week, with Olympian athlete and Arjuna Award winner Anju Bobby George this time accusing the Kerala sports minister of insulting and harassing her. Anju, president of the Kerala Sports Council, has also complained to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan regarding the issue.
The athlete, who was appointed council president by the outgoing UDF government, said she and the vice-president had gone to meet Jayarajan on June 7 after the new government came to power. "We thought he will ask us about the status of sports in
Kerala. But 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 jump athlete, who had won a medal at the 2003 Athletics World Championships, 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 PR Sreejesh and Kerala Cricket Association president, TC 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 the Congress, Communists or the BJP. We are doing our duty. If the government is not ready to accept that, they can ask us to leave. But calling all of us corrupt is 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 his (Jayarajan's) behaviour," she said.
Jayarajan, however, denied the charge and said Anju had parted "very happily" after meeting him. "No, never," he told reporters when asked if, as Anju had alleged, he behaved rudely. He said he was not aware if the athlete had complained to the chief minister.
But Jayarajan did receive the support and backing of his boss, chief minister Vijayan, who said the minister didn't disrespect the Olympian athlete. He also denied that the government considered the entire controversy as being "politically motivated", saying Jayarajan's remarks weren't meant to rebuke her. "Only some discussions about the Sports Council members' air travel had taken place there," Pinarayi was quoted as saying by Matrubhumi.
The minister had earlier this week kicked up a row after he described legendary boxing champion Mohammed Ali as a sportsman from Kerala during his obituary reference.