Kerala upset as minister denied Olympics visit

August 8th, 2008 - 6:38 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 8 (IANS) The Kerala government has sent a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, expressing its displeasure over state Sports Minister M.Vijayakumar being denied permission to attend the Beijing Olympics, officials said. “The state cabinet discussed this issue at its meeting Wednesday and a letter to this effect was sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and also to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. This is the first time that a Kerala minister has not been given the political clearance for a foreign trip. We still hope that permission would be given,” said A.G. Sasidharan Nair, private secretary to the minister.

The minister was keen to attend the mega sporting event in Beijing as five athletes from Kerala are taking part.

“The presence of the minister would have certainly boosted the confidence of the athletes. Moreover, with Kerala aiming for lot of infrastructure developments in sports and games, attending the Olympics would have given a lot of insights,” Nair told IANS.

Minister Vijayakumar also said that not granting him permission was unjustifiable.

“No reason has been given for denying me permission and the central government’s stand was not right,” he told reporters here.

Vijayakumar received the letter, declining his request to go to Beijing Aug 5 that was signed by a deputy secretary of the external affairs ministry. It said that the matter had been carefully examined and the competent authority felt that permission need not be given.

Nair added that while the minister’s request was turned down, Kerala Assembly speaker K.Radhakrishnan got the go ahead to attend the Games.

“We had never made any request that the minister should be taken in the official Indian delegation,” Nair clarified.

The request was made almost a month ago, he said.

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