NEW DELHI: Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport could be renamed after former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N T Rama Rao with two senior ministers of the Narendra Modi government justifying the demand on Thursday.
“I was one among the people, who was present when it was named after the great N T Rama Rao earlier. It was changed subsequently. Some people are suggesting you change it back. That is an issue that will be decided in due course of time. That is not urgent today,” BJP leader and parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters here.
Without naming BJP ally Telugu Desam Party (TDP) which was founded by NTR, Naidu said “a particular party at their annual conference have expressed their desire. Nothing wrong about it. But the government will take a call about it as and when necessary. Nothing is going to happen immediately.”
He said what was required was “the welfare of the people … (but) we should respect the sentiments of people also. There are 650 schemes, there are no is no dearth of schemes in the name of different families.”
On the other hand, TDP veteran and civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, who had participated in the 2008 protests when the new airport at Shamshabad was named Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, said “if we have the opportunity, we will push it through.”
He said the decision to change the name was taken “against the wishes of the Telugu-speaking people. But the Telugu-speaking people are now being divided into the two states from June. N T Rama Rao’s name should be retained.”
However, Raju also said “generally speaking, naming or renaming things leaves a distaste. Memories of great people should not be dishonoured.”
At a meeting on Wednesday, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu revived their demand that Rajiv Gandhi International Airport should be named after the party’s founding father, NTR.
TDP had been demanding this since the inauguration of the airport in March 2008 by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and had even organised protests at that time.
The party’s argument was that NTR’s name was already there when the airport was at Begumpet. While the domestic terminal had NTR’s name, the international terminal was named after former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.