What’s in a name?

  • Directive to name domestic terminal at RGIA after NTR
  • Opposition from Congress and TRS
  • Confusion over naming as RGIA has integrated terminal
  • Resolution to oppose the name change

(P Ravi)

Hyderabad, November 21: In view of the Union Civil Aviation Ministry’s directive to name the domestic terminal at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), Shamshabad after former Chief Minister of erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh, NT Rama Rao; K Chandrasekhar Rao introduced a resolution opposing it. After discussion in the assembly, the consensus was reached to make a representation to central government expressing displeasure at not being consulted for the name change and the decision to give NTR’s name the terminal could have been named after a Telangana person. Instead, the same name could continue, they felt.

Commenting on the same the chief minister of Telangana informed about how CPI and CPM are introducing their newspapers with new names – Mana Telangana and Nava Telangana, respecting the sentiments of people. “If there has to be a name change, the central government should have consulted the state. We did not know about the name change until we saw the news. It is not about NTR or about disrespecting the great man. But, why was not a Telangana person’s name given. Don’t we have a history? Why cannot you let the name remain as it is? The airport has been named after a former prime minister who was assassinated!” he added, “There are four airports in Andhra Pradesh. If they want they can name all the four after NTR. It looks quite unnatural the way the name is being given to RGIA after the state is separated.’

Unlike the older airport at Begumpet in Hyderabad that had two terminals (After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in 1991, the PV Narasimha Rao government named the Begumpet airport after the slain leader. The domestic terminal was named after NTR after his death in 1996, by the then United Front government at the behest of N Chandrababu Naidu, who was Chief Minister at that time) – the new airport has just one name. NTR’s name was first proposed by Chandrababu Naidu when decision to build the Shamshabad airport was taken in 2005, but was dropped by the Congress government led by YS Rajasekhar Reddy when RGIA was inaugurated by Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi in 2008; much to the chagrin of the TDP members. Despite several representations by Naidu, the Congress government refused to budge.

Now, with BJP at the helm, an order to rename the domestic terminal, aimed at ‘restoring’ the legendary politician’s name to RGIA, was communicated to the GMR Hyderabad International Authority Ltd (GHIAL) by the Union civil aviation ministry headed by Telugu Desam Party’s P Ashok Gajapathi Raju, on Thursday, categorically indicating that the change be implemented with immediate effect. While the ministry maintained that the name of the airport will continue to be Rajiv Gandhi International airport, it insisted that NTR’s name be given equal prominence along with RGIA on the terminal building.

At this juncture, one is reminded of Ashok Gajapathi Raju’s promise at the time of his induction into the Narendra Modi cabinet as civil aviation minister, in May this year. Soon after taking charge, Raju vowed that he would do all he could to rename the Shamshabad airport. While it is evident that BJP government at the centre has respected the wish of its alliance partner; the decision is bound to be opposed by the Telangana government.

It remains a matter of confusion on how the integrated terminal at RGIA (there is no separate domestic terminal at the airport) can be named after NTR, despite the best of intentions. TDP leaders in the assembly today had suggested naming the domestic side after NTR, instead.

The airport authorities remain perplexed over the issue and hope to get some clarity after Telangana government’s representation to central government.

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