How BJP-Congress name game has hijacked Chandigarh airport

Manjeet Sehgal
Manjeet SehgalDec 25, 2015 | 17:02

How BJP-Congress name game has hijacked Chandigarh airport

Apart from the international flights, the Chandigarh International Airport is also desperately waiting for a name. Nearly four months have passed after the airport was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The authorities have neither begun the international flights from here nor taken a final decision on the name.

The Haryana government has now kicked off a new controversy by demanding that the airport be named after RSS ideologue Mangal Sein. State politicians had earlier said that they will not oppose if the airport is named after martyr Bhagat Singh.


The issue has now attained political overtones. The Haryana government is facing criticism not just from within the state, but also from the neighbouring areas, for this demand. The opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and its student wing have threatened to launch a state-wide protest if the government continued with its proposal to get the airport named after the RSS activist.

"The BJP government's proposal is an insult to martyr Bhagat Singh who laid down his life for the nation. Dropping his name to benefit the RSS is objectionable and will not be tolerated," the INLD's student wing The Indian National Students Organisation (INSO) president, Pradeep Deswal said.

Punjab Pradesh Congress (PCC) president Captain Amarinder Singh has also strongly resented Haryana's proposal to name the Chandigarh airport after Mangal Sein, an RSS leader and a former Haryana deputy chief minister. "This seems to be yet another move aimed at saffronisation and we will not allow it at any cost", he remarked. He also condemned the Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for his timid silence and not raising the issue with the central government.

In a statement, the PCC president disclosed that he had learnt that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had agreed to Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar's proposal. He said, the Congress party will not allow it at any cost.


Capt Amarinder asserted that Punjab has a justified claim in naming the Chandigarh airport since the union territory belonged to it. Besides, he added, instead of naming the airport after an RSS leader whose only claim to fame is a two-year stint as deputy chief minister of Haryana, it must be named after some prominent freedom fighter.

The former chief minister said, the Congress party will strongly protest if the union government goes ahead with its proposal of naming the airport after Sein. Meanwhile, radical Sikh groups have objected to the name of Bhagat Singh, terming him a "killer". President of Akali Dal (Amritsar) Simranjit Singh Mann had recently created a stir by calling Bhagat Singh a terrorist. "Bhagat Singh is neither a martyr nor a national hero. He is a terrorist. We are against naming the Chandigarh International airport as Shaheed-E-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh Airport," Simranjit Singh Mann told the media.

Mann had also slammed Badal for having failed to set up an international airport in Amritsar and said he took the project to Chandigarh so that the value of the plots owned by him and his relatives sell at a higher price.


"He should desist from naming the airport after Bhagat Singh who was a terrorist. Instead, he should dedicate the airport to Baba Banda Singh Bahadur -the Sikh warrior who had defeated the Mughals," Simranjit Sigh Mann said.

While the ministry of civil aviation is yet to decide a name for this airport, the Airport Authority of India has avoided the name suggested by the Punjab government and put simple sign boards.

Chandigarh BJP leader Sanjay Tandon told Mail Today that both the governments should avoid controversies as the airport also belongs to the people of Chandigarh.

"The important thing is that we have an international airport. Politicians should avoid creating chaos. There is no controversy regarding the name and all doubts will be cleared by the government as there is a BJP government in Haryana and an ally in neighbouring Punjab," Sanjay Tandon said.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government has said that it will stick to the resolution which was passed by the state assembly in 2009. "The Punjab government will stick to the non-official resolution passed by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha that names the airport as Shaheed-E-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh International Airport. This has been forwarded to the ministry of civil aviation," Vishwajeet Khanna said.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Last updated: December 25, 2015 | 17:21
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