A racist remark made by a CPI(M) minister against a senior World Bank (WB) official in Left-ruled Kerala may have jeopardised the international soft loan it was to receive from the agency for its infrastructure projects. Kerala public works minister G Sudhakaran reportedly made the racial comment against Dr Bernard Aritua, senior infrastructure specialist, WB, during a speech in Kasargod. Aritua has been associated with a road development project in Kerala funded by WB. After media reports that the WB has taken a decidedly grave view of the comment, Sudhakaran was quick to tender an apology on Thursday. The minister was reviewing the progress of a World Bank-backed road project in Kasargod on Monday, when he slipped into a diatribe against WB and the specific official. “World Bank means America. Kerala has existed even before America was born. Do not threaten us that the bank loan will be withdrawn. KSTP (Kerala State Transport Project) is one of the corrupt projects in Kerala. World Bank officials are responsible for the tardy progress of the project. Since I became the public works minister, the representatives of the World Bank met me four times… Their team leader is an African-American. This means he belongs to the race of Obama. He is a N***o. Centuries ago, 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,” the minister said on Monday.
“I would write a letter to the official tendering an apology for my remark. Or else, when the WB team visits me next time, I would express my regret,” Sudhakaran said on Thursday.