Mumbai: The Shiv Sena on Monday claimed that the Centre’s decision to name the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award after hockey legend Dhyan Chand was not the will of the people but a “political game”.
An editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ also asked what was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s contribution to cricket that a stadium (in Ahmedabad) was named after him.
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 wizard Dhyan Chand, following the admirable performance of both men’s and women’s hockey teams in the Tokyo Olympics.
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.
It claimed, changing the name of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award to Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award is not the will of the people but a political game.
The Sena said,”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”.
It said just because the Modi government changed the name of the award does not mean earlier governments had forgotten Dhyan Chand.
Additionally, Sena said, “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 Marathi publication said the question raised by some BJP leaders about whether Rajiv Gandhi ever held a hockey stick in his hands was valid.
“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.
Shiv Sena asked, When Khashaba Jadhav won the first individual Olympic medal (bronze) for the country, why didn’t anyone think of setting up a ‘Khel Ratna’ award in her name?