The Congress on Wednesday said the renaming of the refurbished Sardar Patel cricket stadium in Ahmedabad after Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "an insult to every single Indian", and asserted that the BJP can never be a "game changer" but can only be a "name changer". The government, however, defended it, saying the sports complex, as a whole, remains in the name of the country's first home minister.
Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted, "Proved beyond doubt -: BJP can never be 'game changer', BJP can only be 'name changer.'' Addressing the media, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said one man, who would be very depressed today would be former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani. Advani would be wondering, why he didn't name some projects, some stadia and some highway in his name when he was the deputy prime minister of India, Khera said, in a dig at the BJP.
"Mr. Modi is clever. He knows what he did to Mr. Advani and he is worried the same may be done to him. Therefore he has renamed an existing stadium, which was inaugurated in 1983, under the Congress regime like most of the projects and infrastructure. He removed the name of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, put his own name instead and this is unprecedented," Khera said.
It is a sad story of what is wrong with today's India under the Modi government, he added. Khera said successive governments, as a tribute to previous governments and previous prime ministers definitely do name places in their honour.
"You should have waited, but, you knew, you have done nothing for the next governments to remember you for, for the next generation should remember you for. Therefore, you will pay your own tribute to yourself," he said. This is not a new stadium, by the way, this is a stadium, which has been refurbished, he said.
Khera said the removal of Patel's name is an "insult to every single Indian, that hurts every single Indian". President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the world's largest cricket arena in Ahmedabad, renamed from Sardar Patel stadium to Narendra Modi stadium in honour of the prime minister who is credited with conceptualising the facility in its current awe-inspiring form.
The state-of-the-art stadium, inaugurated by Kovind, can accommodate 1.32 lakh spectators and it opened with the third Test between India and England, a day-night game from Wednesday. It will also host the fourth and final game of the series from March 4. Earlier in the day, 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."