Row over naming of Kerala science institute campus after RSS ideologue
Kerala’s ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M), and opposition Congress have opposed the move to name the new campus of Thiruvananthapuram’s Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar and have demanded that it be named after some well-known scientist.
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said the first phase of the premier research centre’s new campus was ready and it will be named after Golwalkar, who headed the RSS until the 1970s. RSS is the ideological fountainhead of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party at the Centre.
“Golwalkar’s main contribution was hatred and division. We want the institute to be named after a senior scientist or some other national leaders,” said CPI (M) leader M A Baby.
The Left has suggested the new campus be named after Dr Palpu, who was the chief medical officer of the erstwhile Mysore kingdom.
Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said he has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to have the new campus also named after late former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. “It is big paradox that a research institution is named after the ideologue of an organisation that was responsible for many riots in the country,” he said.
Shashi Tharoor, the Congress member of Parliament from Thiruvananthapuram, has also opposed the move.
Congress lawmaker K S Sabarinathan said the Sangh Parivar—RSS and its affiliated bodies—is on a name-changing spree. “Many cities in North India have been renamed under its diktats. The same ploy is being used here. We will oppose it.” He said former chief ministers K Karunakaran and A K Antony toiled to set up the RGCB two decades ago and it was unfair to name the new campus after Golwalkar.
The BJP has justified the decision saying there is no written agreement that all major institutions should be named after either India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru or the Gandhi family members. “Let the world know there are many national heroes,” said BJP leader Sandeep Warrier. “Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was not a BJP or RSS leader. Modi took the initiative to build a befitting memorial to the tall leader [in Gujarat]. There is only a flyover in the name of P V Narasimha Rao, who ruled the country at a critical juncture [in the 1990s],” he said.
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