The world’s largest cricket stadium at Motera in Ahmedabad was renamed the Narendra Modi Stadium and inaugurated on Wednesday by the President of India Ram Nath Kovind in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah; his son Jay Shah, who is Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary; and others.
The rebuilt stadium is a part of the proposed, sprawling Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Enclave, which includes the world’s largest cricket stadium, a natatorium (indoor swimming pool), facilities for athletics and track and field sports, a football stadium, a field hockey and tennis stadium, indoor sports halls and arenas, velodrome/ skating area, and outdoor fields. The enclave is spread in over 220 acres on the Sabarmati river bank in the north east area of Ahmedabad.
The President laid the foundation stone for the sports enclave along with the inauguration of the rebuilt cricket stadium.
“This stadium was conceptualised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. He was president of the Gujarat Cricket Association at that time,” President Kovind said in his address after the inauguration.
“This stadium is an example of eco-friendly development,” he added.
“1,32,000 people can sit and watch cricket here at the Narendra Modi Stadium which ahs been inaugurated by the President. This will be the world’s biggest sports stadium,” Home Minister Amit Shah said at the event.
“Coupled with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Enclave and Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera, a sports complex will also be built in Naranpura. These three will be equipped to host any international sports event,” he said.
“Ahmedabad will be known as the ‘sports city’ of India,” he added.
“Olympic Games can also be held here,” Amit Shah said about the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Enclave.
“Not just for cricket but it’s a proud moment for India. Besides being the largest cricket stadium, it’s also one of the most modern stadiums in the world,” Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said earlier.
“As children, we used to dream about the world’s largest stadium in India. And now as sports minister, my happiness knows no bounds that this has finally happened,” he had said.
The stadium held the knockout stages of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy earlier this year.
Soon after President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the world’s largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, which will now be known as ‘Narendra Modi stadium’, social media was flooded with remarks including by some leaders of the Congress and other opposition parties who alleged that the renaming exercise amounted to an “insult” to Sardar Patel.
Asked about the allegations, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, however, told reporters that only the Motera stadium has been renamed and the complex continues to be named after Vallabhbhai Patel.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was present alongside Javadekar at the media briefing after a cabinet meeting, also took a swipe at the Congress leaders, asking whether party chief Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi have so far praised the world’s tallest statue of Sardar Patel erected at Kevadiya in Gujarat.
Javadekar said the two Congress leaders have not even visited the statue.
Prasad continued, “I want to say this with full responsibility that a tourist place getting global praise has not been visited yet or praised by the two Congress leaders. What else is there to say?”
Earlier, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor had tweeted, “Maybe they just realised the stadium was named for a Home Minister who had banned their parent organisation! Or maybe this is advance booking to ensure the next visiting Head of State is hosted here, like Trump? Or is this the beginning of a legacy-creation-thru-labelling spree (sic)?”
Rajeev Satav, another Congress leader, said the renaming was “a clear sign of autocratic dictatorship”. “Renaming Motera cricket stadium from Sardar Patel to Narendra Modi is an absolute disgrace. This shows how narcissistic our PM has become. This is outrageous and a clear sign of autocratic dictatorship,” he said.