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In a sudden move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Friday, renamed the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award- India’s highest honour given to a sportsperson, to Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award.
Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, which was formerly known as Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, was named after India’s former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi.
Late Major Dhyan Chand, who is regarded as the ‘Hockey wizard’ was a celebrated athlete. In his career that spanned from 1926 to 1949, he won Olympic medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936.
The renaming came amid 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in which, Indian men’s Hockey team won Bronze; brought a medal home after 41 long years.
This decision was welcomed by many but also, invited criticism from the Opposition. Even Twitteratis could not hold themselves and asked PM Modi that Gujarat’s Sardar Patel Stadium, which was named as Narendra Modi Stadium, should be now renamed after a sportsperson too.
PM Modi made this announcement via his Twitter account. He wrote, “I have been getting many requests from citizens across India to name the Khel Ratna Award after Major Dhyan Chand. I thank them for their views. Respecting their sentiment, the Khel Ratna Award will hereby be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award! Jai Hind!”
Veteran Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Digvijay Singh, said, “I am not surprised at all. I was even hoping that they would rename it (Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award) after Narendra Modi, as they did with Sardar Patel stadium.”
On the contrary, Chief Minister of Assam HB Sarma wholeheartedly welcomed Modi’s decision. “I don't think there should be any opposition. When you give a sportsperson an award in name of such a legend, people will feel honoured,” he opined.