Bengaluru: Sparking off a row, BJP National General Secretary and former Karnataka Minister C.T. Ravi on Saturday called on Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to rename Indira Canteens, a flagship initiative of the previous Congress Government named after late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
The demand came a day after the Union Government on Friday renamed the country’s highest sports award after legendary Hockey player Major Dhyan Chand, removing the name of another former Prime Minister and Congress Leader Rajiv Gandhi.
In a tweet on Saturday, Ravi, a former Minister in the previous B.S. Yediyurappa Cabinet, had called for renaming Indira Canteens as ‘Annapoorneshwari Canteens.’ He had also tweeted that he had no reason to see why Kannadigas should be reminded of the dark days of Emergency, which was declared by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in mid 1970s.
Leader of the Opposition Siddharamaiah, who as a Congress Chief Minister a few years ago, had started Indira Canteens across the State, aimed at providing subsidised food to the poor and the needy.
Siddharamaiah hits back
Soon as C.T. Ravi tweeted calling for renaming of Indira Canteens as Annapoorneshwari Canteens, Opposition Leader and former Chief Minister Siddharamaiah, who started the Indira Canteens, hit back at the BJP leader saying that the BJP was intolerant towards Opposition leaders.
Strongly opposing Ravi’s demand, Siddharamaiah, speaking to press persons at Benglauru on Saturday, said that it is a common practice to name schemes, programmes, initiatives etc., after national leaders. Strongly defending his decision to name the canteens after the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Siddharamaiah took exception to the Centre’s decision to rename Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.
“The Union Government could have instituted another award in the name of Major Dhyan Chand and not rename Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award as Major Dhyan Chand Award. Has not the BJP in Karnataka named schemes after former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee? There are flyovers named after Jansangh and BJP leaders Deendayal Upadhyaya and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee in Bengaluru. But the Congress did not rename them when in power. The BJP needs to respect the contribution of other leaders and those in the Opposition as well,” he maintained, while pointing out how a stadium in Gujarat was recently named after the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Reiterating that the BJP should be tolerant towards others, Siddharamaiah alleged that BJP leaders such as C.T. Ravi were only promoting hatred. Warning the BJP leaders against making any moves to rename Indira Canteens, the Opposition Leader accused the BJP of being anti-poor.
Asserting that Indira Canteens in Karnataka take forward the pro-poor legacy of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Siddharamaiah reminded that Indira Gandhi, who headed the Congress party for a long time, shared a special bond with Karnataka, as she was elected from Chikkamagalur Lok Sabha constituency by-poll held in 1978 when she was out of power.
Referring to the formation of Basavaraj Bommai Cabinet, Siddharamaiah said that he does not have any expectations from the new Cabinet. Arguing that the State Cabinet lacked balance as there is no representation to as many as 13 districts, he also charged the Government of ignoring old Mysuru region and also of being indifferent to the welfare and development of oppressed and marginalised sections of the society.
He also termed the recent ED raids on the residence and properties of Chamarajpet Congress MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan as politically motivated and also aimed at intimidating the MLA for taking on the BJP Government.