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Shiv Sena calls renaming Khel Ratna award 'political game', not people's wish

Shiv Sena calls renaming Khel Ratna award political game, not peoples wish

Major Dhyan Chand,  Narendra Modi and Rajiv Gandhi (file photos)

Mumbai: The Union government's decision to rename the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award after hockey wizard Dhyan Chand is not the people's wish, but a olitical game', the Shiv Sena said on Monday.

In an apparent snub about the floated justification to rename the award that the award should be in the name of a sports star, the editorial in the Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' also wondered what Prime Minister Narendra Modi's contribution to cricket was that a stadium (in Ahmedabad) was named after him.

Soon on the heels of India's widely lauded performance in hockey in the Tokyo Olympics, India's highest sporting honour Khel Ratna Award, which was named after former PM Rajiv Gandhi, was on Friday rechristened in the honour of hockey legend Dhyan Chand.

At Tokyo, the men's hockey team won bronze, thus bringing a medal home in the game after a gap of 41 years, and the women's missed the bronze in the losers' final to Great Britain. Making the announcement, Prime Minister Modi said he had been getting many requests from citizens across India to name the Khel Ratna Award after Major Dhyan Chand.

On Monday, the editorial in 'Saamana' said late prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were victims of terror acts. There could be political differences with leaders like them, but their sacrifices towards the country's development cannot be mocked, it opined.

"Changing the name of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award to Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award is not the people's wish, but a political game," it claimed.

"Major Dhyan Chand could have been honoured without insulting Rajiv Gandhi's sacrifice. But, the country has lost such tradition and culture. It would have made Dhyan Chand sad in heaven," the Sena said.

It said just because the Modi government changed the name of the award does not mean earlier governments had forgotten Dhyan Chand.

It is not a great honour for Dhyan Chand to use his name for the award by replacing it with the name of Rajiv Gandhi, who had made "supreme sacrifice for the country", the Sena said.

The editorial also remarked that "removing Rajiv Gandhi's name (from the award) is political hatred" .

The Marathi publication said the question raised by some BJP leaders about whether Rajiv Gandhi ever held a hockey stick in his hands was valid, this being a build-up to ask a rhetorical question about Modi's connection with cricket. "People are also asking what Narendra Modi has done for cricket that a stadium in Ahmedabad is named after him by replacing the (earlier) name of Sardar Patel,: it said.

The same yardstick should have be applied while renaming a Delhi stadium (Feroz Shah Kotla) after (late BJP leader) Arun Jaitely. People are also asking these questions, the Sena said.

The editorial also highlighted that even as the government was celebrating India's wins at the just-concluded Olympic Games, it had cut down the sports budget by Rs 300 crore.

It also drew attention to the fact that when the now acclaimed hockey teams ran without sponsors, after the Sahara Group withdrew sponsorship of the men's and women's hockey teams, it was Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who accepted their guardianship.

"Hence, the Odisha government's contribution is equally important in the (men's) hockey team's win (at the Olympics)," it added.

When Khashaba Jadhav had won the first individual Olympic medal (bronze) for the country, why no one thought of setting up a 'Khel Ratna' award in his name? the Sena asked.

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TAGS:Shiv Sena Renaming Khel Ratna Award Dhyan Chand 
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