The renaming of a cricket stadium after Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his home state Gujarat – billed as the world’s biggest – has revived the charges of crony capitalism levelled by him, said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday.
Rahul Gandhi also highlighted that this change comes at a time when Jay Shah, son of PM Modi’s closest confidante Union Home Minister Amit Shah, was the treasurer of the Indian cricket board BCCI.
The references to Reliance and Adani were that to two of India’s biggest business houses led by billionaires from Gujarat – Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani.
As an opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi has dedicated this season’s attack on PM Modi’s government with special emphasis on accusations of crony capitalism that have been bolstered by the nearly-three-month-long farmers’ protest against the Centre’s new agricultural laws.
Gandhi has repeatedly used the slogan “Hum Dom Humare Do” – the decades-old motto of India’s family planning programme that advocates for families to have two children to control its population growth – as a barb at PM Modi and Amit Shah favouring two of their closest business groups.
The charges have prompted the government to fight on the same pitch with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman saying in parliament this month that the slogan applied better to the Congress, led by party chief Sonia Gandhi, her children Rahul and Priyanka and influenced by son-in-law Robert Vadra.
“Hum do humare do is that – we are two people taking care of a party and there are two other people who I have to take care, daughter and damad will take care of that,” Sitharaman said.
Govt faces backlash
Responding to those like Gandhi who picked on the renaming of the stadium, the ruling BJP’s Amit Malviya posted:
The surprise renaming of the revamped Motera cricket stadium in Gujarat after PM Modi today triggered a flood of reactions on social media, including from the opposition that accused the government of “insulting” Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, a freedom icon and India’s first Home Minister, whose name had been given to the sports complex and stadium.
Facing a backlash, the government clarified that the name change involves only the cricket stadium and the entire sports complex continues to be named after Sardar Patel.