Thiruvananthapuram: A controversy has erupted in Kerala over the naming of the second campus of Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) here after late Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue M.S. Golwalkar, as both ruling CPI-M and opposition Congress have criticised the move.
“What is MSG’s contribution to science, other than promoting the disease of communalism?” asked a peeved Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha MP and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor regarding naming of campus as ‘Shri Guruji Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar National Centre for Complex Disease in Cancer and Viral Infection’.
“As for former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s contribution, he inspired scientific innovation and allocated funds for it. Are there no BJP icons who’ve at least tried to do the same thing? Must the government of India memorialise a bigoted Hitler-admirer who in a 1966 speech to the VHP asserted the supremacy of religion over science,” asked an angry Tharoor.
Senior CPI-M politburo member and former Kerala Minister M.A. Baby said “the development is most unfortunate and cruel”.
“This has been done purposely to drive a wedge in the Kerala society. It is unacceptable and the people of Kerala should oppose this strongly,” said Baby.
Two-time former Congress Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the institute was started by late Congress leader G. Karthikeyan as a society and it was later taken over by the state during then Chief Minister K Karunakaran’s term.
“Later, then Manmohan Singh government had sanctioned Rs 100 crore for it. In my last term, we also sanctioned land for the institute. Do not know what is the significance of this new name of one who has had no role at all. This shows that if one has power, they will go to any extent to do anything,” said Chandy.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stating that it was most painful and it should not be allowed.
On the other hand, state BJP spokesperson B. Gopalakrishnan said it has now become fashionable for the opposition parties to come out with stock statements like communal and what not.
“They have nothing to find fault with Modi, as there are no corruption issues. Those who know about Golwalkar will never say things like this. What has been done is that the new campus building has been named after him. Please understand the name of the institution will continue to be known as RGCB only. The opposition leaders are jumping up and down,” said Gopalakrishnan.
On Friday, Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan said: “I am happy to understand that this research facility will be named as ‘Shri Guruji Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar National Centre for Complex Disease in Cancer and Viral Infection’.” He was addressing an RGCB-organised curtain-raiser session of the sixth edition of India International Science Festival (IISF) scheduled for December 22-25.
“The second campus will offer to investors, entrepreneurs, biotech and bio-pharma companies a state-of-the-art research facility incorporating a unique “test and prove” platform. It will provide all pre-clinical, analytical, toxicological and biological analysis to validate a biotech or biological products, besides offering incubation facilities for startups,” added the Minister.