Conditions for Olympics visit insult to Kerala: minister

August 9th, 2008 - 4:10 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 9 (IANS) Kerala Sports Minister M. Vijayakumar Saturday said the conditions laid down by the external affairs ministry on his visit to the ongoing Beijing Olympics were “an insult” and that he would not attend the mega sporting event. The minister was earlier denied permission to go to Beijing, but got the go ahead Friday evening after the Kerala government sent a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Vijayakumar’s private secretary G. Sasidharan Nair had said the letter from the external affairs ministry granting permission came with strings attached.

“It (the letter) says that the minister can reach Beijing only after Aug 10 and he has to make his own arrangements for stay and travel to various locations where the event will take place,” Nair said.

“The conditions put up are an insult to Kerala,” Minister Vijayakumar told reporters here Saturday. “After going through the letter received last night from the external affairs ministry, (one realises) this is not a permission but only a no-objection and with this how can one go?”

However, Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed said that the issue was being blown out of proportion.

“If a minister’s visit is set aside on technical grounds, does it amount to an insult? It appears strange and people of Kerala know how the Manmohan Singh government has taken care of the state’s needs,” Ahamed told reporters at Malappuram in north Kerala.

The sports minister was keen to attend the Beijing Olympics as five athletes from Kerala are taking part.

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