Anju Bobby George’s AFI entry through Karnataka raises eyebrows

Anju Bobby George’s election as senior vice-president of the AFI via a nomination from the KAA hasn’t gone down well with a few affiliated units of the State body.

Anju Bobby George is from Kerala but lives in Bengaluru where she runs the Anju Bobby George Sports Foundation.   -  M. Moorthy

Anju Bobby George’s election on Saturday as senior vice-president of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) via a nomination from the Karnataka Athletics Association (KAA) hasn’t gone down well with a few affiliated units of the State body.

The World championship bronze medallist is from Kerala but lives in Bengaluru where she runs the Anju Bobby George Sports Foundation. The long jumper is said to have secured the nomination by entering KAA from the adjacent Chikkaballapur district.

“It’s disappointing,” said Ashwini Nachappa, Asian Games medallist and president of the Bangalore Urban District Athletic Association. “It is great to see a woman as VP, an athlete of her calibre. I congratulated her. But we saw in the electoral college that she has been nominated through KAA!”

READ: Sumariwalla elected AFI chief for third term, Anju named senior VP

“If she had been actively involved [in Chikkaballapur], we would have had no problem. But she has figured in no capacity there. As per the RTI papers we have, Chikkaballapur hasn’t even held its AGM and renewed its registration.

“We have no dearth of international athletes in Karnataka, starting from Kenneth Powell. So for them to be overlooked is very disappointing. This also questions Anju's integrity. Kerala would have been fine. But to do it in such a manner, through the back door, is very disheartening.”

A. Rajavelu, KAA secretary, defended the move and said the presence of a popular name like Anju will “boost the brand of KAA”. He also claimed that the 43-year-old was recently elected senior vice-president of the Chikkaballapur district body and thus there was no illegality.

“She might be from Kerala but she is now well settled in Bengaluru,” Rajavelu said. “We aren’t against greats of Karnataka nor do we ignore our senior administrators. Last year we ensured that Uday K. Prabhu was part of the Indian selection committee.”

“Anju is the first-ever Indian to win a medal at the World Athletics Championship. For her to be vice-president of AFI and represent KAA will be a proud moment for us,” he added. Anju was unavailable for comment.