Thiruvananthapuram: The ruling LDF and Opposition Congress in Kerala on Saturday flayed the Centre’s decision to name the second campus of Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology after late RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar, alleging that the BJP was “communalising everything” and questioned his contribution to science.

Amid the opposition to the move, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan urged Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, to reconsider the decision to name the new campus after Golwalkar and instead name it after some eminent Indian scientist of international repute.

The institute is a premier research institution and has been above political divides, Vijayan said in a letter to the Union minister.

The RGCB, which was initially run by the state government, was handed over to the Union Government with the aim of developing it into a Centre of International standards in research and development.

Keeping this in view, the state government is of the opinion that the campus should be named after some eminent Indian scientist of International repute instead of the proposed name, he said.

“I request you to reconsider the decision, if it has already been taken, or not to contemplate such a decision, if already not taken. I hope that your Ministry will consider favourably our proposal to name the new campus after an eminent Indian scientist.

This will keep up the reputation of the institution and help avoid controversies in the public domain,” Vijayan said.

Slamming the decision, LDF convener and CPM state secretary A Vijayaraghavan said: “The BJP is attempting to bring communal elements to the forefront. As part of this plan, they decided to name the new campus of the RGCB after Golwalkar. BJP aims to communalise everything.”

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Ramesh Chennithala also came out against the decision.

Tharoor, in a series of tweets, asked whether the Centre wanted to “memorialise a bigoted Hitler-admirer, who in a 1966 speech to VHP, asserted the supremacy of religion over science?”

“As for Rajiv Gandhi’s contribution, he inspired scientific innovation & allocated funds for it. Are there no BJP icons who’ve at least tried2do (sic) the same thing? Must GoI memorialise a bigoted Hitler-admirer who in a 1966 speech to VHP asserted the supremacy of religion
over science?,” Tharoor tweeted.

He also suggested the name of Dr Palpu, a renowned bacteriologist and social reformer, born in Thiruvananthapuram in 1863.

Tharoor said Palpu was an expert in serum therapy and tropical medicine from Cambridge and Director of the Vaccine Institute and Fellow of the Royal Institute of Public Health.

“This forward-looking scientist & medical practitioner would be far more appropriate than an obscurantist ideologue of no scientific achievement & no discernible contribution to public health. It’s a BJP insult to Thiruvananthapuram & should be resisted. @drharshvardhan,” Tharoor tweeted.

Chennithala said naming the campus after Golwalkar was not acceptable and added that he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting that the decision be withdrawn. “Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was a great leader who laid the foundation for modern India and encouraged the progress made by the country in the field of science and technology.

“What was the share of Golwalkar in the field of science and technology in the country? The Centre should withdraw the move,” Chennithala said in a statement.

Senior CPI leader and former minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran had on Friday expressed shock and also suggested the name of Dr Palpu for the institution, saying “he fought against casetiest abuse of the downtrodden while providing his services to the medical sector.

“There is no other person in the history of this country who has spread so much hatred. No one should be allowed to sow such poisonous seeds in the land where reformers like Sree Narayana Guru, Ayyankali and Chattambi Swami have flourished the ideas of renaissance,”
Ratnakaran posted on Facebook.

Union Minister for Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan on Friday said the second campus of RGCB, a major knowledge centre and hub for mid and high level innovation, would be named ‘Shri Guruji Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar National Centre for Complex Disease in Cancer and Viral Infection.’

He made the announcement while addressing a curtain raiser session of the sixth edition of India International Science Festival (IISF) scheduled for 22-25 December, held online and organised by RGCB.

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