Move to rename Sardar Patel stadium after Modi, draws flak

Many see it as an insult to Sardar Patel, others view it as a sign of Modi’s possible narcissism


On February 24, the Sardar Patel Cricket Stadium in Motera, Ahmedabad, was renamed Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium after it underwent renovation. The new and improved stadium was inaugurated by President Ramnath Kovind.

In his inauguration speech, President Kovind said, “This stadium was conceptualised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. He was president of the Gujarat Cricket Association at that time.”

The stadium is spread over 63 acres, and is the largest cricket stadium in the world. It has 11 pitches in the square. According to The Tribune, it also has a unique sub-soil drainage system that helps in draining the wet ground in 30 minutes.

The move to rename the stadium drew tremendous flak, given how Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel was one of India’s greatest freedom fighters, and replacing his name with that of the Prime Minister was seen by many as an insult to Sardar Patel. Soon #सरदार_पटेल_का_अपमान started trending on Twitter.

Actor turned politician Raj Babbar remarked, “NO harm in renaming the stadium at Ahmedabad if those behind the act are convinced that significance of Sardar’s contribution to the making of India is lesser than that of the current Prime Minister.”



Shahsji Throor wondered, “Maybe they just realised the stadium was named for a Home Minister who had banned their parent organisation! Or maybe this is advance booking to ensure the next visiting Head of State is hosted here, like Trump? Or is this the beginning of a legacy-creation-thru-labelling spree?”



The fact that two pavilions of the stadium were also named after Ambani and Adani, two corporate houses alleged to be close to the Prime Minister, also provided more ammunition to the Opposition.



Many also saw it as an example of Modi’s alleged megalomania and narcissism. Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha tweeted asking, “Is it not time we changed the name of India to Modidesh?”



The move also attracted international attention. British actor Tom Holland, who is best known for playing Spiderman, tweeted, “I’m a huge admirer of the modesty Modi showed in naming the world’s largest cricket stadium after himself.” In a follow up tweet, he said, “Not always a good sign for countries when leaders start pulling that trick…”



Meanwhile, the government, perhaps in a face-saving bid, scrambled to clarify that the entire 233 acre sports complex continues to be named after Sardar Patel, while only the stadium has been renamed. Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju tweeted, “The name of the whole Sports Complex is Sardar Patel Sports Enclave. Only the name of one Cricket Stadium, within that complex has been named as #NarendramodiStadium Ironically, “The Parivaar”, which never respected Sardar Patel, even after his death, is now making hue & cry!”



But this is not the first time, Modi has replaced a beloved national icon. In January 2017, employees of the Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC) had staged a unique peaceful protest when an image of Narendra Modi was used to replace that of Mahatma Gandhi in the annual calendar published by the organisation. The Wire reported that employees participated in “a silent, soul-cleansing” protest wearing black bands on their mouths, during lunch hour.  


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