After the centre announced that Indian’s tallest sporting honour – the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award shall be known as the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award henceforth, there is a growing demand in Karnataka for renaming Rajiv Gandhi National Park located at Nagarahole.
According to the reports, Vinay Kayapanda, a resident from Kodagu district, has initiated an online campaign on Change.org on Friday demanding that the Nagarahole national park be named after Kodandera Madappa Cariappa, who was the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, a native of Kodagu. He was born on 28 January 1899 in Madikeri, Kodagu and had a distinguished military career spanning three decades.
The online petition has so far reached more than 5,200 signatures out of the target of 7,500. The petition has been tagged to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai.
The petition reads that the Nagarahole national reserve forest was renamed after former PM Rajiv Gandhi only to impress a particularly political family and the party and hence demands to rename the national park after Karnataka origin General Kodandera Madappa Cariappa and, if not at least to restore its previous name. The park was previously known as Nagarahole National Park before it was named after Rajiv Gandhi during his rule in 1988.
Several others from Kodagu have extended their support to the campaign to rename Nagarahole national park. Col CP Muttanna (retd), from Coorg Wildlife Society, said, “We have never called it as Rajiv Gandhi National Park. Everyone has been calling it Nagarahole. Suddenly, one day, we saw the board and the government order on it being renamed.”
The petition comes just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a surprising decision, had announced to rename the Khel Ratna Award after Hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand. The Khel Ratna Award is the highest sporting honour in India. Until now, it has been named after former Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi.
Major Dhyan Chand is one of the greatest sports personalities of the country who represented India at the Olympics in 1928, 1932, and 1936 and ensured Olympic medal to the country in hockey.
There had been calls by citizens for a significant period of time to name the award after a sporting legend instead of a politician. Rajiv Gandhi, after all, was not known for his sporting prowess.