New Hyderabad airport plunges into naming controversy

March 12th, 2008 - 7:41 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Hyderabad, March 12 (IANS) With just two days to go before the scheduled inauguration of the new international airport near Hyderabad, a fresh controversy has erupted over its naming after former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Andhra Pradesh’s main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has taken strong exception to the name and demanded that the government retain the dual name.

The international terminal at the existing airport at Begumpet in the heart of the city is named after Rajiv Gandhi while the domestic terminal is named after N.T. Rama Rao, the founder of the TDP and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister.

Threatening an agitation over the issue, the TDP has said that dropping NTR’s name was an insult to the Telugu people.

“This is an insult to Telugus. The government should have continued with the two names,” TDP leader and former minister N. Janardhan Reddy told reporters Wednesday.

The Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad, about 30 km from here, is scheduled to be inaugurated by Congres chief Sonia Gandhi Friday.

Janardhan Reddy recalled that NTR had founded the TDP to fight for the pride of Telugus but the state Congress government’s move to remove his name from the airport amounted to insulting the late leader and the people of this state.

NTR, a popular Telugu actor, came to power within nine months of launching the party in the early 1980s and thus ended the virtual monopoly of the Congress in the state politics.

Another TDP leader, T. Devender Goud, said several projects in the country were named after Rajiv Gandhi or Indira Gandhi and hence the airport should be named after NTR. He recalled that it was during the TDP’s regime that the state bagged the prestigious airport project.

Goud pointed out that the airports in different states were named after prominent personalities born in those states. “Hence the airport here should have the name of NTR, the tallest leader of Telugu people,” he said.

The Congress government, however, justified the name of the airport.

“Rajiv Gandhi was prime minister of India and there is nothing wrong in naming the airport after him,” said Minister for Energy Mohammed Ali Shabbir.

Addressing a news conference, he said it was the central government that decided to name the airport after the late prime minister. He also argued that there was no precedent of having two names for one airport.

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