Bengaluru civic body on Thursday cancelled the inauguration of Veer Savarkar flyover at Yelahanka in the north of the city. The 400-metre flyover, named after the freedom fighter and Hindutva ideologue, was scheduled to be unveiled by Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Savarkar’s birthday, but Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) called the ceremony off at the last moment citing Covid-19 lockdown.
On Wednesday, a controversy erupted over flyover with both the Congress and the JD(S) opposing the decision of the state’s BJP government to name it after Savarkar. Leader of the Opposition and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said, “The decision taken by the BJP government to name the Yelahanka flyover after Savarkar is an insult to freedom fighters from Karnataka’s soil.” Demanding withdrawal of the decision, Siddaramaiah added, “This hasty decision to name the flyover after Savarkar is a proof that the administration is not run by an elected government but by those behind the scene… Why didn’t he (Yediyurappa) consult the opposition parties before making such anti-people decisions?”
JD(S) also attacked the BJP government and said that the flyover could be named after eminent personalities from Karnataka. Asking whether other states had named infrastructure projects after freedom fighters from Karnataka, JD(S) leader and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said,“I urge the government to withdraw this decision. There are several eminent personalities who fought for the development and welfare of the state, both before and after independence. Flyover could have been named after them,” Kumaraswamy said.
The BJP, on the other hand, called the Congress a ‘naamdar’ party. Taking to Twitter, Union Minister of Coal and Mines Pralhad Joshi said, “This exhibits bankrupt Congress mentality. On one hand, they name national assets after a family of dynasts, and on the other hand, they downplay the contribution of our national heroes like Babasaheb Ambedkar, Subhash Chandra Bose, Vallabhbhai Patel, and others.”
Opposing freedom fighters like Savarkar is an insult to the freedom fighters of this soil, he said, adding, “Yediyurappa is a mature administrator and people are his masters. Naming circles, buildings, infrastructure after Nehru and fake Gandhis are the ‘naamdar’ party’s honour to freedom fighters.”
Pro-Kannada activists hit back at all political parties through Social media movement:
As the flyover controversy sparked a row between the ruling and opposition parties in Karnataka, the pro-Kannada activists questioned all the three major parties about their contributions during their rules in the state.
On Wednesday evening, pro-Kannada Twitter users started a social media movement to oppose the decision under the hashtag #DontWantSavarkarName.
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Arun Javagal, a Kannada activist of Banavasi Balaga, a pro-Kannada organisation, said, “This is not the first time that a government is naming an infrastructure project after a leader whom the people of Karnataka don’t know. There are many freedom fighters from Karnataka… why is the government not considering them in naming a infrastructure project like this?”
Pointing out that even Congress and other political parties also did the same by naming government projects after their political leaders, he said, “The national political parties name the projects after their political leaders to get attention of their high command. They all go with what high commands of their respective parties want. When Indira Canteen was opened by Siddaramaiah, we had campaigned to rename the canteen after Akka Mahadevi, the 12th-century poet, and call it “Akka (meaning sister in Kannada) Canteen.”
Arun added that the people of Karnataka have always fought to get their achievers and leaders name on various infrastructure projects. “In 2009 we fought and started a movement to rename the Bengaluru airport as Kempegowda International Airport. Kempegowda is the founder of Bengaluru. Had we not fought, the airport would have been named after some non-Karnataka person,” he added.
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