Union Minister for State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan on Sunday dismissed media reports which claimed that former Kerala track-and-field star Anju Bobby George had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during a meeting in Bengaluru.
Speaking to the media, Muraleedharan said there was nothing political about the meeting which took place on Saturday.
"I have had a long association with Anju and her husband Robert Bobby George. Yesterday, I had a party programme in Bengaluru. She called me and asked if we could meet to which I agreed. When she came to the programme in which I was taking part, the event was about to begin. So I invited her to the dais, as she is an internationally acclaimed athlete," said Muraleedharan, the only leader from Kerala in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet.
"As the meeting was going on, we talked and not a word of politics was spoken. She was talking about her institute," he added. Anju confirmed the same to TNM and said that she went to meet Muraleedharan as he was visiting Bengaluru. However, news agency ANI reported her presence on the dais as her joining the party, the story later appeared on other media.
Former long jumper George (42) hails from Kottayam in Kerala and is presently employed with the Customs in Bengaluru.
In 2003, she made history by becoming the first Indian athlete to win a medal at the World Championships when she won the bronze in Paris with a leap of 6.70m.
She achieved her personal best of 6.83m, which is still a national record, at the 2004 Athens Olympics which fetched her the fifth position.
An Arjuna awardee, George has represented the country at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World Championships from 2002 onwards.
During the previous United Democratic Front (UDF) government in Kerala in 2015, George was appointed as the chairperson of the Kerala State Sports Council. However, a month after the present Left Democratic Front (LDF) government assumed office in May 2016, she quit from her post.