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Protests in Rajya Sabha over renaming of Hyderabad airport

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Protests in Rajya Sabha over renaming of Hyderabad airport
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New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha Wednesday saw protest over renaming of Hyderabad airport for a second day Wednesday, even as the central government explained that the international airport continues to be named after former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The upper house saw Congress members trooping near the chairman's podium, raising slogans hailing Rajiv Gandhi. The din caused the loss of question hour despite repeated pleas from Chairman M. Hamid Ansari.

The protests caused three adjournments, as upset Congress members alleged that Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju was resorting to "cheap tactics".

Raising the issue, Congress leader Anand Bhaskar Rapolu said while his party respects N.T. Rama Rao, the late founder president of the Telugu Desam Party, the government should "retain" the name of Shamshabad (Hyderabad) airport after Rajiv Gandhi.

"Cheap tactics will not yield anything but animosity," he said.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said: "Both N.T. Rama Rao and Rajiv Gandhi are respected leaders... The international airport in Hyderabad continues to be named after Rajiv Gandhi."

"Domestic airport was originally named after NTR and that continues to be so," he added.

The civil aviation minister stood to offer an explanation, but was not allowed to speak by protesting Congress members. "Rajiv Gandhi's name has not been changed...," Raju said.

As Congress leaders continued their protest, Jaitley said: "Rajiv Gandhi's name remains, demand is that NTR's name should be removed, which is not acceptable."

In the din, Jaitley presented some newly inducted ministers to the house.

Ansari attempted to take up the question hour, which has been shifted from 11 a.m. to 12 noon. The chairman adjourned the house again till 12.30 p.m. as the ruckus continued. When it met, the chair adjourned the house till 2 p.m.

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