Amid a controversy over a cricket stadium in Gujarat being renamed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government on Wednesday said the name change involves only the Motera stadium and the sports complex where it is located will continue to be named after Sardar Patel.
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Soon after President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the world's largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, which will now be known as 'Narendra Modi stadium', social media was flooded with remarks including by some leaders of the Congress and other opposition parties who alleged that the renaming exercise amounted to an "insult" to Sardar Patel.
Union ministers Prakash Javadekar and Ravi Shankar Prasad hit out at the Congress leaders, saying those who never respected Sardar Patel were objecting to the stadium being named after Modi.
Asked about the allegations, Javadekar told reporters that only the Motera stadium has been renamed and the complex where it is located continues to be named after Vallabhbhai Patel.
Prasad, who was present alongside Javadekar at the media briefing after a cabinet meeting, took a swipe at the Congress leaders, asking whether party chief Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi have so far praised the world's tallest statue of Sardar Patel erected at Kevadiya in Gujarat.
Javadekar said the two Congress leaders have not even visited the statue.
Prasad continued, "I want to say this with full responsibility that a tourist place getting global praise has not been visited yet or praised by the two Congress leaders. What else is there to say?"
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted, "Maybe they just realised the stadium was named for a Home Minister who had banned their parent organisation! Or maybe this is advance booking to ensure the next visiting Head of State is hosted here, like Trump? Or is this the beginning of a legacy-creation-thru-labelling spree (sic)?"
His party colleague Rajeev Satav said, "Renaming Motera cricket stadium from Sardar Patel to Narendra Modi is an absolute disgrace. This shows how narcissistic our PM has become. This is outrageous and a clear sign of autocratic dictatorship."
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, without directly talking about the stadium, tweeted a Hindi quote of Sardar Patel, "There is something unique in this soil, which has always been the abode of great souls despite many obstacles."
Later, Information and Broadcasting Minister Javadekar tweeted, "The name of the Sports Complex is Sardar Patel Sports Enclave. Only the name of the cricket stadium, within the complex, has been named after Narendra Modi. Ironically, 'The Family', which never respected Sardar Patel, even after his death, is now making hue and cry."
A similar post was tweeted by Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports.
Prasad, Minister for Law & Justice, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology, also tweeted, "I want to ask Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi that while they have objection over renaming of Motera Stadium to Narendra Modi Stadium, Have they ever praised world's tallest statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Kevadia? Have they even visited it?"
BJP's National President J P Nadda said that naming the world's largest stadium after Prime Minister Modi is a "humble attempt to honour his vision" to take India to the top-most position in the sports arena as well.
The party's IT cell head Amit Malviya said that "the usual suspects" have a problem just because the cricket stadium, one of the many facilities in the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Enclave, has been named after PM Narendra Modi.
"Get used to it! Today, several people speak of India and PM Modi in the same breath...," he tweeted.