Controversy erupts over naming of Mopa Airport in Goa

Ahead of the commissioning of Mopa International Airport, a controversy has erupted in Goa over naming the new project amid a debate on naming the airport after Goa’s first chief minister Dayanand Bandodkar, former Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and first Goa Opposition leader Jack de Sequeira.

The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) Central Committee has taken a unanimous decision to urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to name Mopa airport after Bandodkar. However, netizens have also demanded to name it after Parrikar or Sequeira.

“We have taken a resolution, which would be mailed today to the Prime Minister,” MGP President Deepak Dhavalikar told IANS.

MGP is a coalition partner in Chief Minister Pramod Sawant-led BJP government.

Bandodkar was the former MGP leader, who contributed in various fields, including education.

“The social work done by Dayanand Bandodkar during the pre-liberation period, irrespective of caste and religion, and his contribution in the field of educational and industrial sectors, and the preservation of the culture of Goa is noteworthy. He gave a corruption-free government and worked in the interest of people. Hence, Mopa airport should be named after him,” MGP’s resolution said.

Former Union Minister Ramakant Khalap on Monday welcomed the decision of the MGP.

“I am happy. The MGP has passed a resolution demanding that the new Mopa Airport be named as ‘Dayanand Bandodkar International Airport’ in memory of Goa’s first Chief Minister. I may, however, caution the MGP leadership that a mere resolution in their Executive/Working Committee will not be sufficient. MGP has two MLAs and one of them is a Cabinet Minister…. Both MLAs must convey this demand in writing to the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister,” Khalap said.

“Sudin Dhavalikar (MGP Minister) should prevail upon his Cabinet colleagues to pass an appropriate resolution in the cabinet. The MLAs must also move a resolution in the Assembly and ensure that it is passed unanimously. The ruling party owes a lot to MGP,” he added.

On November 2, Khalap had written a letter to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant requesting to name the new International Airport at Mopa as ‘Dayanand Bandodkar Airport’.

Former Goa Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Subhash Velingkar has also demanded naming Mopa airport after Bandodkar.

Commending the contribution of Bandodkar during a meeting in North Goa last week, he said that if the government tries to give any other name then it would have to face agitation by the people of Goa.

There are demands on social media by admirers of Parrikar and also of Sequeira to honour these leaders by naming Mopa airport after them.

BJP spokesperson Savio Rodrigues has said that if not late Manohar Parrikar, the airport should be named after Jack de Sequeira.

“People want to name airport after a political leader who wanted to merge Goa with Maharashtra. The political leader who saved Goa’s individual identity was Jack De Sequeira. If not late Manohar Parrikar, it should be named after Jack de Sequeira,” Rodrigues added.

However, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has clarified that the names will be sent to Union Civil Aviation Ministry to decide upon the name.

Sawant has said that commissioning of Mopa Airport will take place after December 8.

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