Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 3: With just 28 days left for the 35th National Games to be held in the state, a controversy has broken out with a section of the media boycotting all events related to the mega sporting event.
A section of the media here has been cut up after the Run Kerala Run, a promotional programme to be held at 7,000 locations in the state on the 20th of this month to promote the games, was given to an event management company which is a sister company of one of Kerala's leading regional dailies.
"This event is going to be one that is going to give Kerala a huge boost and to create a controversy for no reason should be avoided. But, if anyone has any complaint, they may give in writing on which immediate action will be taken," Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters in Kochi Saturday.
Trouble had been brewing since it became public that the event management company was paid Rs 10.62 crores. For the past few days a section of the media has not been taking part in the routine press meetings and functions related to the games.
Kerala Sports Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan told reporters here Saturday that it's most unfortunate that a needless controversy has been raked up.
"We have followed the policy of inviting tenders for every activity related to the games including selecting the event management company. Everything is there in the website for anyone to see....till today (Saturday) we have not received any written complaint from anyone. I individually spoke to people and we have called a meeting on Tuesday when I will make things more clear," said Radhakrishnan.
He pointed out that the company was selected as theirs was the lowest bid. "There are two components in the professional fees and one portion is related to conducting the Run Kerala Run event, the other portion pertains to the publicity and from that 'every one' would get a portion. There need be no fear that we did things on the sly," said Radhakrishnan.
Games' chief commissioner Jacob Punnoose, who is facing the brunt of the media attack, pointed out that he was unwell on Thursday and was in bed so he could not take part in the ceremony announcing the 30-day countdown to the games when leading sports personalities lit a lamp to mark the occasion.
"It was after detailed calculations that we decided to bring in an event management company because if we were to involve government officials to organise the Run Kerala Run event, it would have cost us more. Moreover the sports department in Kerala has just a handful of staff. We have done everything in the utmost transparent manner and everything is there in the website," Punnoose told IANS.