Chandigarh Airport To Be Renamed After Bhagat Singh, Says PM Modi

The move is being seen as BJP's one-up over the Aam Aadmi Party over the martyred legend's legacy.

Chandigarh Airport To Be Renamed After Bhagat Singh, Says PM Modi

AAP has carefully strategised to claim the legacy of Bhagat Singh.

New Delhi:

Chandigarh airport will be renamed after freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced today on his monthly radio address "Mann Ki Baat". The move is being seen as BJP's one-up against the Aam Aadmi Party over the martyred legend's legacy. 

"As a tribute to the great freedom fighter, it has been decided that the Chandigarh airport will now be named after Shaheed Bhagat Singh," PM Modi said.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann welcomed the announcement, saying a long pending demand of Punjabis has been fulfilled.

"Finally our efforts paid off. On behalf of entire Punjab, we welcome the decision of naming the Chandigarh airport after Shaheed Bhagat Singh ji," Mr Mann said in a tweet in Punjabi.

Haryana's Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala also welcomed the announcement.

Mr Chautala said Punjab and Haryana governments had earlier agreed to name the Chandigarh international airport after Bhagat Singh. The decision had come after Bhagwant Mann and Dushyant Chautala held a meeting over this issue last month.

Referring to his meeting, Mr Mann said the Punjab government had also sent a letter to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry, saying that Bhagat Singh's birth anniversary falls on September 28, and it will be good if the airport could be named after the legendary freedom fighter before that.

"I am happy that our efforts bore fruit and the Prime Minister made the announcement in the Mann Ki Baat programme," said Mr Mann.

The Punjab Chief Minister began his term with great pomp and show with a symbolic tribute to the iconic freedom fighter. AAP had hosted Bhagwant Mann's swearing in ceremony at Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of Bhagat Singh. The venue was awash in the colour "Basanti (yellow)".

Yellow turbans, the trademark of comic-turned-politician Bhagwant Mann, filled the village Khatkar Kalan in response to his call to people to wear "Basanti turbans and dupattas" to his oath. Yellow was the theme of the venue and decor. Bhagat Singh used to wear turbans of the colour, which came to symbolise revolution.

Just a few days into his office, Bhagwant Mann had declared that March 23, the day of Bhagat Singh's martyrdom, will be declared a public holiday every year.

AAP has carefully strategised to claim the legacy of Bhagat Singh, who's popular with the youth and in rural North India.

This is also not the first time the proposal to rename the union territory's airport after Bhagat Singh has been made.

The Punjab government in 2017 had demanded that the airport should be named as "Shaheed-e-Azam Sardar Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport, Mohali".

The Haryana Assembly, led by the BJP, had in April 2016 unanimously passed a resolution on the same. The state government had said it had no objection to the renaming, but "Mohali" should be dropped from the name.

The BJP state government's move was then perceived as a power play against the then ruling Congress in adjacent Punjab. With the airport's terminal building falling in Punjab's Mohali town, Punjab government had put up signage of 'Mohali airport', upsetting the Haryana government.

The next year, in 2017, there was an uproar in the Rajya Sabha as the Opposition alleged that the BJP government in Haryana did not want to name it after freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.

CPM lawmaker Ritabrata Banerjee had then said there has been a controversy over the naming of the Chandigarh airport.

"The Punjab Government had agreed that the airport will be named after Shaheed-E-Azam Bhagat Singh, (but) the Haryana Government, the Haryana Chief Minister said 'no'. They want to name the airport after Mangal Sein," he said.

Congress had joined in, alleging that the BJP wanted to name it after the party's Haryana ex-Chief Minister Mangal Sein.

The BJP had, however, denied the allegation, saying they never said so.

The Rs 485-crore airport project is a joint venture of Airports Authority of India (AAI), and governments of Punjab and Haryana.

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