Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has urged the Union government to reconsider its decision to name new campus of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) after Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, an idealogue of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). In a letter to Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Saturday, Pinarayi Vijayan cited that the institute is a premier research institution and “has been above political divides”.
On Friday, Dr Harsh Vardhan announced that the second campus of RGCB in Thiruvananthapuram will be named after RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar, as 'Shri Guruji Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar National Centre for Complex Disease in Cancer and Viral Infection'. He made the announcement at the curtain-raiser session of the sixth edition of India International Science Festival (IISF), which will be held online on December 22-25. The event is organised by the RGCB. The announcement soon led to a controversy.
"The RGCB was initially run by the state government and was handed over to the government of India with the aim of developing in into a centre achieving the International standards in research and development. Keeping this in view, the government of Kerala is of the opinion that the campus is named after some eminent Indian scientist of international repute instead of the proposed name," Pinarayi urged in the letter.
As the announcement kicked off a row, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Mullakkara Retnakaran MLA urged that the campus should be named after Dr Padmanabhan Palpu. In early 1880, Dr Palpu, a bacteriologist from Kerala, was denied a doctor’s job in Travancore because of his caste. He had later become Chief Medical Officer of Mysore State. He was known for his service during the plague about 120 years ago.
Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor, too, made the same suggestion.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan writes to Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, requesting him to "reconsider the decision" to name Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology as 'Sri Guruji Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar National Centre for Complex Diseases in Cancer & Viral Infection'. pic.twitter.com/pOuPvZ5HNb— ANI (@ANI) December 5, 2020
In his letter, Pinarayi Vijayan 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 to avoid controversies in the public domain.”