BJP in a spot as renaming Ramlila Maidan kicks up storm

BJP Delhi president Manoj Tiwari said, "some people are deliberately trying to spread false news. 'Maryada Purushottam' Lord Ram is revered by all. There is no question of renaming Ramlila Maidan." (DH File Photo)

Plans by a BJP-ruled municipal corporation to rename the iconic Ramlila Maidan in the national capital after late former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee have triggered a political furore, prompting the saffron party to distance itself from the proposal.

The plans to bring the proposal before a meeting of North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) on August 30 now appear to be on hold. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal mocked the BJP and said that such moves will not fetch them votes.

Sources said the senior BJP leaders in the NDMC were planning to bring the proposal during the meeting using a special rule but as soon as the issue snowballed into a controversy, the BJP state leadership sought to douse the fire.

NDMC Mayor Aadesh Gupta said, "there is no proposal under consideration for renaming" Ramlila Maidan, which was the venue of the iconic protests -- including the famous speech by Jai Prakash Narayan just before Emergency against then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the Anna Hazare anti-corruption protest among others.

BJP Delhi president Manoj Tiwari said, "some people are deliberately trying to spread false news. 'Maryada Purushottam' Lord Ram is revered by all. There is no question of renaming Ramlila Maidan."

Responding to the news, Kejriwal said the BJP will not get votes by changing the name of Ramlila Maidan. "BJP should rename their Prime Minister. Then maybe, it will get some votes because no one will vote in his name," Kejriwal said without taking the name of Narendra Modi.

The NDMC move comes against the backdrop of BJP's push to cement the legacy of former Prime Minister Vajpayee, who passed away on August 16 at the age of 93.

State BJP units are now conducting yatras carrying Vajpayee's ashes and immersing in 100 holy rivers across the country. While prayer meetings are held across the country, there are plans by states like Chhattisgarh to rename Naya Raipur as Atal Nagar. Maharashtra has decided to set up chairs in memory of the BJP patriarch in all the 13 universities under it.

However, the BJP move has come under attack from Vajpayee's niece Karuna Shukla, a BJP leader who joined Congress, who accused the BJP of trying to "cash in" on her Vajpayee's death for "political gains". Congress also slammed the BJP for "politicising" Vajpayee's death by taking out a procession of urns carrying his ashes throughout the country.

"The way BJP is using Atalji’s memory for political purposes is condemnable,” AICC General Secretary Ashok Gehlot has said.

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BJP in a spot as renaming Ramlila Maidan kicks up storm

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