Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written to Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan, asking him not to rename Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) in Thiruvananthapuram under Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue MS Golwalkar.
Harsh Vardhan on Friday had said the second campus of RGCB would be renamed “Shri Guruji Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar National Centre for Complex Disease in Cancer and Viral Infection”, while addressing the inauguration of India International Science Festival to be held from December 22 to 25.
In the letter, the Kerala Chief Minister said the RGCB is an advanced research institute and “has been above political divide.”
“The RGCB was initially run by the state government and was handed over to the government of India with the aim of developing it into a centre achieving international standards in research and development,” Mr Vijayan wrote in the letter. “Keeping this in view, the government of Kerala is of the opinion that the campus be named after some eminent Indian scientist of international repute instead of the proposed name,” he wrote.
“I request you to reconsider the decision, if it has already been taken, or not to contemplate such a decision, if already not taken. I hope that your ministry will consider favourably our proposal to name the new campus after an eminent Indian scientist. This will keep up the reputation of the Institution and help to avoid controversies in the public domain,” Mr Vijayan wrote.
Criticising the move, LDF convener and CPI(M) state secretary A Vijayaraghavan said, “This is exactly how the BJP works. They generally try to bring up communal symbols. During the campaign in Hyderabad election they wanted to change the name of they city. They changed the name of Allahabad and want to change names of other cities. That is the style of BJP, as part of that, in Kerala they have given the name of Sanghparivar to a scientific institute. Their idea is to communalise everything and deploy communal thoughts into the minds of people”.
Leader of opposition in the Kerala assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, Ramesh Chennithala, also questioned the move. “Strongly condemn Central Government’s move to name the new block of Rajiv Gandhi Biotechnology Centre after Gowalkar. Before giving his name Modi Govt should explain to the people of Kerala about the contributions made by Gowalkar to our nation,” he said.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor in a series of tweets questioned the move to rename the institute.
“…What is MSG’s contribution to science other than promoting the disease of communalism? As for Rajiv Gandhi’s contribution, he inspired scientific innovation and allocated funds for it. Are there no BJP icons who have at least tried to do the same thing? Must centre memorialise a bigoted Hitler-admirer who in a 1966 speech to VHP asserted the supremacy of religion over science (sic)?” Mr Tharoor tweeted.
As for RajivGandhi’s contribution, he inspired scientific innovation &allocated funds for it. Are there no BJP icons who’ve at least tried2do the same thing? Must GoI memorialise a bigoted Hitler-admirer who in a1966 speech to VHP asserted the supremacy of religion over science?
– Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) December 5, 2020
“I suggest a local hero: Dr P Palpu, renowned bacteriologist and social reformer, born in Thiruvananthapuram, 1863. Expert in serum therapy and tropical medicine from Cambridge. Director of the Vaccine Institute and Fellow of the Royal Institute of Public Health,” Mr Tharoor tweeted.
“This forward-looking scientist and medical practitioner would be far more appropriate than an obscurantist ideologue of no scientific achievement and no discernible contribution to public health. It’s a BJP insult to Thiruvananthapuram and should be resisted,” Mr Tharoor tweeted.