The Congress on Friday criticised the government’s decision to rename Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award as Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier in the day announced that the country’s highest sporting honour, which comes with a reward of ₹25 lakh, will now be named after the hockey legend – a decision hailed by other BJP leaders, including Amit Shah.
The Congress welcomed the move, but also accused Modi of having a “myopic political motive”.
“We sincerely hope Modiji should not have used his myopic political motive to drag the name of a celebrated player like Major Dhyan Chand,” chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in New Delhi.
“Rajiv Gandhiji is not known for any award; he is known for his sacrifice, for his ideas and for commitment to India and for his sacrifice for India and for the manner in which he transformed India in the 21st century.”
Surjewala said the Congress hopes now that a new beginning has been made, the PM will announce changing the name of Narendra Modi stadium and Arun Jaitley stadium and name them after legendary sportspersons like Milkha Singh, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Leander Paes and P. T. Usha.
Surjewala said the government had cut the sports budget by ₹230 crore in an Olympic year and was now drawing the attention away from the fundamental issues of farmers, their protests, “runaway” inflation and the Pegasus scandal.
Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole also criticised the government decision.
“There is no question of opposition to Major Dhyan Chand’s name. But the name change is out of hatred for the Gandhis. This shows the low level politics of the BJP,” he told reporters in Mumbai.
“If Rajiv Gandhi has no contribution to sports, what is Narendra Modi’s contribution? The Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad could have been named after a great player,” Patole said.