Athletics scion Anju Bobby George resigned on Wednesday as head of a sports council in her native Kerala after an alleged run-in with the state’s new sports minister, who she said had falsely accused her of corruption.
The 39-year-old long-jumper said she never expected a forced exit from a job assigned to her by the previous Congress-led government in the state eight months ago.
“They can kill sports but they can’t defeat a sports star,” she said, announcing that 13 members of the Kerala Sports Council have resigned with her too.
“Sport is beyond politics or religion. I was very happy when I took the post and I wanted to do many things for sports. But my journey was cut short.”
Anju alleged that sports minister EP Jayarajan misbehaved two weeks ago when she went to meet him after the Leftist government came to power.
India’s lone woman to win an athletics World Championship medal said it was not proper to continue at the post after the allegations and misunderstandings.
The athlete alleged that she was being deliberately targeted after she set up an ethics commission to expose corruption and illegal dealings in the council in the past.
“As a revenue official and an athlete, who participated in a number of international competitions, I could easily find out many malpractices in the sports council when I took charge. I think the problems began there … Even my e-mail ID was hacked,” she said.
She complained to CM Pinarayi Vijayan about Jayarajan’s behaviour and later wrote to the minister to conduct an investigation into the council’s work in the past decade.
The 2005 IAAF gold medalist in long jump has been apparently accused of spending council money to travel between the Kerala capital and Bengaluru, where she was posted as an excise and revenue official. The minister had questioned her frequent air trips too.
Anju, who retired from competitive sports in 2011, said she had returned `40,000, the airfare, to the council. She also defended brother Ajith Markose’s appointment at a high-paying post in the council, saying the decision was taken by the government.
“Besides, he is an established coach with an international licence certified by the Athletics Federation of India. He too has decided to resign now.”