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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Kerala sports minister Abdurahiman asks poverty-stricken Keralites not to watch live cricket

Communist Kerala Sports Minister V Abdurahiman said that people who starve should not go to watch cricket matches. “I heard an argument that ticket prices should be reduced due to excessive price rises in the state. So those who are hungry need not go to watch the game!”

He was trying to justify the increase in the ticket price for the Bharat-Sri Lanka ODI match to be held at Kariavattom Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram city. As expected, his comments have not gone down well with cricket enthusiasts and communists.

Communist parties, the world over, have mainly survived using false propaganda that they are the party of the poor and the oppressed. The wave of protest against this statement by a sports minister confirmed specific allegations that have been doing the rounds for several decades. Abdurahiman’s comments showed that there are lakhs below the poverty line in Marxist utopian Kerala and that the much-touted ‘Kerala Model’ is just a farce. 

Abdurahiman repeated his arrogance and said that those who criticize (the exorbitant ticket charges) are the ones who have never paid to watch a live game. He added that his government should get the money (in taxes) it deserves, no matter what. The sports minister declared that hungry ones (poverty-stricken) should not go to the game.

He claimed that the tax money (from the Bharat-Sri Lanka match) would be used in the sports sector. The minister also said that flats could be built in Thiruvananthapuram with tax money.

Incidentally, the apartments the communists have built using funds arranged from begging gulf countries are now mired in controversies. Kerala has not seen a new stadium in several years, and neither has the government helped maintain and upkeep the current ones. A new Muslim minister and another scam in the offing? Abdurahiman replaced disgraced and controversial minister KT Jaleel.

Regarding the unusually high prices, the minister said that ticket rates increased during the Bharat-South Africa match held last September. He also alleged that back then, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) took the entire money. Bharat won that match comprehensively by eight wickets.

This time, the state government increased the entertainment tax to 12 percent. It was 5 percent during the earlier match. With this, an additional Rs 120 for a Rs 1,000 ticket and Rs 260 for a Rs 2,000 ticket will have to be paid as entertainment tax. This is in addition to 18% GST. Including this, the total tax that an ordinary spectator pays rises to 30%. 

Experts pointed out that this is not how we promote sports. Rs 1,000 plus 30% taxes for an ordinary ticket is a scam in a state where over half the youth are unemployed. Ticket rates for students at the recently concluded match held in Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati, on 10 January was Rs 475, including all taxes. 

The Bharat-Sri Lanka match will be held on the 15th of this month. Tickets are priced at Rs 1,000 (18 percent GST and 12 percent entertainment tax applicable) for the upper tier and Rs 2,000 (18 percent GST and 12 percent entertainment tax applicable) for the lower deck. Ticket charges for VIP boxes will be excessive and reserved for politicians and their cronies. 

BJP state president K Surendran lashed out against Abdurahiman’s justifications. The minister’s stance that only rich people should watch live cricket matches is arrogance, he said. This is not an IPL auction for only those with money to participate. The minister should remember that cricket is a game. Surendran demanded that the tax be reduced and that the minister retract the remark and apologize.

Later, Abdurahiman said that his comments about the increased ticket charges and the controversy were due to a misunderstanding. I told the reporters, “It is not that the poor should not watch the game, but when the association charges such a high ticket fee, they mean that the common people should not watch the game.” Rather than help the communist cause, such explanations from corrupt bourgeois racist capitalist ministers from Malappuram have done more harm than good. 

In November 2020, janjatiya (aka Schedule Tribe/ST) activists in Kerala came out strongly against the MLA from Tanur for his racist and derogatory remarks against the tribal community in the state. At a press conference, Abdurahiman said, “Those coming from the Adivasi community need not come to teach us. We are people born and brought up in Tirur (a place in Malappuram) and did not come from Adivasi tribes. So what is to be taught to Adivasis can be taught to them, don’t come here and teach that to us.”

His rant was in response to statements made by Tirur MLA C Mammutty, a native of Wayanad. Mammutty alleged that the communist government was ignoring his constituency.

“He has hurt the dignity of the community deeply. Is he using ‘Adivasi’ as an abusive word to belittle someone? He has said that the Tirur MLA should not come to teach them but rather teach Adivasis. Does that mean the Tirur MLA is ignorant and we tribal people are stupid?” asked Chithra Nilambur, a janjatiya activist from Malappuram, adding that Abdurahiman should apologize. He did not.

Like CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Abdurahiman likes to travel to America for ‘medical treatment.’ Though a crorepati himself, the state government bore all expenses. He is the richest minister in Kerala, at least on paper.

V. Abdurahiman is currently also serving as the Minister for Fisheries, Harbour engineering, Fisheries University, Sports, Wakf and Haj Pilgrimage, Posts & Telegraphs, Railways, Government of Kerala. He became the MLA from Tanur in Malappuram. Abdurahiman won the MLA elections as an independent candidate backed by CPM and was immediately appointed as a minister in the second Vijayan cabinet. 

Abdurahiman was a Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) member and is a wealthy businessman. CPM believed they could take advantage of his proximity with the different sections of Muslims. Abdurahiman is an acceptable figure for both Sunni factions. Regarding other states, the CPM harps about the poaching of MLAs by the BJP. 

Kerala Cricket Association

In November 2022, Bineesh Kodiyeri, the controversial son of former CPM secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was ‘elected’ as the joint secretary of the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA). Earlier, he was a KCA general body member from Kannur. Bineesh was chosen to head the KCA when no one else came forward on the last day to submit the nomination papers for the KCA elections. Someone out on bail on drug-running and money laundering charges heads Kerala cricket.

Jayesh George, who had resigned earlier after facing accusations of laundering Rs 2.5 crore from KCA during his tenure as treasurer, was also reinstated. When faced with serious allegations, corrupt local communists have an easy way out. They replaced the investigating authority, which is precisely what happened to the ombudsman V Ramkumar who looked into the laundering charges. With such leadership, it can be safely said that the future of Kerala cricket is in unsafe hands.

In Marxist Kerala, the same government that should alleviate those living in poverty is insulting them. As they say, to expect fair play from the communists is foolish.

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