Sports portfolio unlikely at this juncture
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) is most likely to give the Ports portfolio to the Kerala Congress P.C. Thomas-faction nominee to the Cabinet, V. Surendran Pillai, as it is having second thoughts on giving him charge of the Sports department at this juncture.
The party has taken into account the several major commitments that the department has undertaken, including preparations for integrating sports and physical education with the school curriculum and the massive infrastructure projects being undertaken for the 35th National Games at an estimated outlay of Rs.500 crore.
Sports and Youth Affairs Minister M. Vijayakumar, who also holds the Ports portfolio now, has done much work on both the fronts in close coordination with the Kerala State Sports Council. The general feeling among the sports administrators is that a change of guard at this juncture will not help matters. This feeling was communicated to the CPI(M) leadership by persons involved in either process.
The CPI(M) leadership had arrived at the tentative decision to hand over charge of the Sports and Youth Affairs portfolio to Mr. Pillai after much deliberation. The party State secretariat, which had protracted discussions on the subject on Friday, had zeroed in on the two departments currently being held by Mr. Vijayakumar in lieu of his being entrusted with the Public Works Department. Mr. Pillai will be sworn in on August 3.
Mr. P.C. Thomas, Mr. Pillai and party general secretary George Sebastian had a hectic day calling on Church leaders and the top brass of the Nair Service Society (NSS) and the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam. On a whistle-stop journey, they met Archbishop Mar Cleemis of the Syro-Malankara Church, Archbishop Susaipakiyam of the Latin Catholoic Church, Pala Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt and Archbishop Mar Powathil, besides NSS secretary G. Sukumaran Nair and Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan.
President Pratibha Patil is scheduled to be in Thiruvananthapuram on August 13 to inaugurate the integration of sports with the general school curriculum. The project aims at making the sports culture part of the school education programme. The project will cover all classes across all schools in the general education stream in Kerala. The project will involve appointment of 963 teachers on a “clubbing” basis whereby children from different schools may get clubbed together for physical training. Much work has been done on the project and it is the view within the CPI(M) that there must be continuity in the decision-making process. Hence the rethink on the portfolio.