Minister in race row

Kerala's Marxist "poet" minister G. Sudhakaran has once again infamously put his foot in the mouth. And as is his wont, Sudhakaran has apologised for his wrongly placed statement.

By Santosh Kumar in Thiruvananthapuram
  • Published 8.07.17
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Thiruvananthapuram, July 7: Kerala's Marxist "poet" minister G. Sudhakaran has once again infamously put his foot in the mouth. And as is his wont, Sudhakaran has apologised for his wrongly placed statement.

This time the public works minister's "gems of wisdom" were directed at the World Bank's senior infrastructure specialist, Dr Bernard Aritua, who was on a visit to the state to review some schemes aided by the organisation under the Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP).

Sudhakaran, who at the drop of a hat lashes out against "rotten American imperialism", referred to the visiting official as one who "belongs to Obama's race. He is a Negro. Centuries back, they were ferried from Africa to America, and were engaged in bonded labour. When slavery ended, they were freed. This official is part of it."

Sudhakaran, whose lone collection of Malayalam poems Aaranu Nee Ee Obama (Who Are You Obama) which is a hit on YouTube, now claims he did not know the word "Negro" is used as a racial slur.

According to him, the word is used in Kerala by legislators without any animosity or contempt. "Since you are a true American, I feel the word shall no longer be used in speech or writing," he reportedly wrote in his letter of apology to Aritua.

In his poem on Obama which was translated into English and sent to the former US President, Sudhakaran wrote: "Mother is asking from Iraq, who are you Obama.... Fishes of Ganga ask, who are you Obama.... Are you Saviour, Murderer or Negro?"

Sudhakaran doesn't want to be referred to as a professional poet, but considers his poetry as one of protest and an instrument to change humanity.

Kerala roads are in an abject condition and the minister blames it on the World Bank.

"The KSTP is one of the corrupt projects in Kerala. Officials of the World Bank are responsible for the tardy progress of the project," the minister had reportedly said after a meeting with bank officials in northern Kasaragod district on Monday.

His apology letter followed objections raised by World Bank authorities to his remark on the leader of the institution's team. The minister also said that he would express his regret when he meets Aritua next time.

The World Bank is said to be highly critical of the progress of work under the project in Kerala and might even slap a fine for not meeting the deadline.

The bank is doling out Rs 1,400 crore for the second phase of the project, which is supposed to be completed by July 2018. However, that is highly unlikely going by the pace of the work at present.

With Sudhakaran courting controversy at alarming frequency, Malayalees in the know say the minister considers himself a genius not understood by his fellow countrymen and women.

Only recently he was criticised for averring that the contribution of Marxist ideologue E.M.S. Namboodiripad was much greater than that of the Hindu spiritual guru for generations, Adi Sankaracharya.

Not to speak of Sudhakaran's conspiracy theory involving the CIA and the US President working overtime to overthrow the Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala, even at the cost of building the Mexican wall.