After mid-day reported on the BJP’s plans to re-christen gates of Wankhede stadium, presently sporting the names of cricketing legends Vinoo Mankad and Polly Umrigar, after their own senior leaders, and the cricketing fraternity going up in arms against it, the party finally decided not to do any such thing.
In the front page report on October 30, this paper had highlighted the party’s plans to rename the entry gates to the stadium after former minister Hashu Advani and senior leader Shivaji Mankar. Nadeem Memon, the maidan secretary of Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), which maintains the stadium, had demurred at the move. Mankad’s youngest son had also called it a “bizarre plan”.
The Vinoo Mankad gate is the main entrance into Wankhede stadium. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
BJP spokesperson Niranjan Shetty had then claimed it was the party’s tradition to do so. BJP had ‘renamed’ the MMRDA ground when then PM candidate Narendra Modi had held a rally in December.
Shetty had further clarified that the name change would only be for a day, and not a permanent one.
Yesterday, as the BJP-led government took oath, the names at the gates remained untouched. MCA officials claimed they had made their displeasure clear at the plan, saying it would hurt the sentiments of various sportsmen.
Memon, the MCA maidan secretary and managing committee member, said, “I had taken up the issue with MCA officials. I had also told them to check with the BJP about the renaming of our gates and asked them not to allow any such thing. My officials spoke to them about it and there was no problem today. The changing of names, even for a day, would have hurt various sportsmen’s sentiments. Hence, our officials conveyed the concerns to the party.”
Rahul Mankad, the son of Vinoo Mankad, said, “I am delighted that the MCA did the right thing. Wiser counsel prevailed in the end.”
On the other hand, Ashish Shelar, the Mumbai president of BJP, claimed no such plan was on the cards. “We were never going to do it and there never were any such plans.” When informed that the party spokesperson had confirmed the news, Shelar said, “I was in charge and we never had these plans of changing the name.”