The date to honour Commonwealth Games silver medallist Shreyasi Singh was fixed without consultation with Vinay Bihari, the minister for art, culture and youth affairs. So he claims.
On Wednesday, Bihari slammed his own department over Shreyasi’s felicitation. Attempting to sound logical, he contended it was the official’s personal view to club the silver medallist with other sportspersons to be honoured at the Bihar Sports Award ceremony on August 29.
On Tuesday, Arvind Thakur, director (student, youth and welfare), had said Shreyasi, along with other Bihar sportspersons, would be felicitated on August 29.
Speaking to The Telegraph around 11.30am on Wednesday, Bihari said he sought an appointment with chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi to discuss Shreyasi’s felicitation.
He said: “I totally disagree with this. It might be the official’s personal view. I do not wish to felicitate her at that function. We cannot make her a part of the crowd. I sought time from the chief minister and will meet him soon today (Wednesday) to decide on a date and the way to honour her. Calls have been made to the chief minister’s office and I should meet him by this afternoon.”
At 8.45pm, he said the meeting was not possible because of Manjhi’s schedule.
Earlier in the day, Bihari — confident about the meeting — had sought to provide reasons for the delay in felicitating the 22-year-old athlete. He added that he had also spoken to Shreyasi and expressed how saddened he was by the delay.
“I did have a word with her and explained it. With the elections (bypolls) set to start, the model code of conduct has been imposed and will be in effect till August 25 (the day results will be declared). According to the regulations, we cannot hold any kind of government functions without proper permission of the Election Commission in this period. In such a situation, our hands are tied,” he said.
By-elections to the 10 Assembly constituencies were notified on July 19. Shreyasi won silver in women’s double trap on July 27 in Glasgow.
The Telegraph tried to contact her on Wednesday but failed. Neither was her cellphone reachable nor did she answer any texts.
Around 5pm, too, Bihari was waiting to meet Manjhi. He said: “I am yet to get an appointment. He is busy in meetings but has assured me that once he’s free, I will be called. Once a decision is taken, it would be announced.”
Manjhi was in meetings the entire day. Sources had told this newspaper that it was unlikely that Bihari would get an appointment or a decision would be reached on Wednesday.