Updated: February 25, 2021 7:31:55 am
The renaming of the Sardar Patel Cricket Stadium in Gujarat, popularly known as Motera, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi has triggered a political controversy, with the Congress accusing the BJP of insulting an icon of the freedom movement. The BJP defended the move, saying it was recognition of the Prime Minister’s efforts in inspiring youth to rise in sports.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Beautiful how the truth reveals itself. Narendra Modi stadium. Adani end-Reliance end. With Jay Shah presiding. #HumDoHumareDo.”
Responding to criticism from the Congress that renaming the stadium was “an insult to Sardar Patel”, Gujarat Deputy CM Nitin Patel said there was no question of the venue being renamed. “It was always famous as Motera Stadium. That stadium has been named as Narendrabhai Modi Cricket Stadium by GCA today,” he said.
Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said, “This is the second time he (Modi) has insulted the two great sons of Gujarat and great international icons – one of them being Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and the other being Patel. In 2017, on the khadi calendar…traditionally there was Gandhi with a charkha…that image is embedded in our heads…he removed that and came and sat himself. Today he has removed Patel’s name and put his own name. “We understand the acrimony, we understand the hatred you have towards these great icons, who chose the Congress route, who rejected the RSS and its ideology… We know how much you hate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. We are proud of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel for several things that he has done, one of them is banning the RSS. Today, you have avenged that act, that great act of that great man called Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel,” he said.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury also criticised the move, saying, “All this is beyond imagination. Replacing the stadium named after venerable Sardar Patel by his own name, PM has shown the worst depths of self glorification. Shameful.”
BJP leaders and Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar hit back at the Congress. “The Motera stadium has been renamed but the complex continues in the name of Vallabhbhai Patel,” Javadekar said during a briefing on cabinet decisions. Prasad added, “Have Sonia ji and Rahul Gandhi praised the Sardar Patel statue in Kevadiya, the tallest in the world?… They have not praised or visited a tourist place in India which is getting global attraction. What else is there to say?”
Union minister Kiren Rijiju alleged that Sonia Gandhi had changed “beautiful Arunachal University as Rajiv Gandhi University” in 2007 and had “laid foundation for Rajiv Gandhi Polytechnic, after having Indira Gandhi Park, Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Nehru Museum, Jawahar Nehru College, list is endless… “
Other BJP leaders pointed out that several sports stadiums and tournaments are named for members of the Nehru-Gandhi family.
When asked to comment on this, Congress’s Khera said, “Successive governments, as a tribute to previous governments and previous prime ministers, definitely do this… But you knew you had done nothing for the next governments to remember you for… Therefore, you will pay your own tributes to yourself.”
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