Amid allegations from several Congress leaders that the renaming of the stadium was an insult to freedom fighter and the country’s first Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel, several BJP leaders and union ministers also hit back at the Gandhi family saying they never respected Sardar Patel even after his death and were now making a hue and cry.
The ruling party’s IT cell head Amit Malviya was more direct, saying those finding a problem with the stadium’s name should “get used to it” and several people now speak of India and Prime Minister Modi in the same breath.
In a tweet, he said, “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 Modi.
Nadda, in a series of tweets on the inauguration of the newly rebuilt stadium and ground-breaking ceremony for the new sports enclave, said it will prove to be a milestone in the promotion of sports in India and will strengthen the country’s global standing in this field.
He said India will reach the top-most position in the sports arena on the strength of Prime Minister Modi’s untiring efforts and policies.
“Naming the world’s largest stadium after Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a humble attempt to honour his vision,” he tweeted.
He said the prime minister has launched campaigns like ‘Khelo India’ and ‘Fit India’ to promote sports and had envisioned making Gujarat a sports hub while he was the chief minister.
“It is his vision that Ahmedabad is being established as the sports city of India,” the BJP chief said.
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.
Asked about the allegations, Union minister Prakash Javadekar, however, told reporters at a post-Cabinet briefing that only the Motera stadium has been renamed and the complex continues to be named after Vallabhbhai Patel.
Another Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was present alongside Javadekar, asked 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.
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.
Rijiju later also tweeted, “In 2007, Smt Sonia Gandhi came to Arunachal Pradesh and changed beautiful Arunachal University as Rajiv Gandhi University, laid foundation for Rajiv Gandhi Polytechnic, after having Indira Gandhi Park, Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Nehru Museum, Jawahar Nehru College, list is endless…”
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?”
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.”
Her brother and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi again invoked his ‘Hum do humare do’ jibe, claiming that truth was out with the stadium having the prime minister’s name, two ends being named after corporate houses and Amit Shah’s son being involved in cricket administration.
“Beautiful how the truth reveals itself. Narendra Modi stadium — Adani end — Reliance end. With Jay Shah presiding,” Gandhi tweeted, with the hashtag ‘HumDoHumareDo’.