Vadodara: Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale has demanded rechristening of the Vadodara airport after late visionary king Sir Sayajirao Gaekwad III, who ruled the erstwhile princely state of Baroda from 1875 to 1939.
Athawale said during his visit to the city on Friday that naming an airport after Gaekwad will be a symbolic tribute to the great ruler and maker of modern Baroda.
“I will request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to name it after him,” he said.
The minister was in the city for an event related to B R Ambedkar in the Sayajirao Garden in Vadodara.
“The new international terminal constructed at a cost of Rs 160 crore has an area of 18,120 sq metres and can handle 700 passengers (500 domestic and 200 international) per hour.
It has 18 check-in counters and is ready for commissioning now,” airport sources said.
Athawale justified naming of the airport after Gaekwad, saying the visionary ruler recognised and promoted talent among his people. He supported education and training of several persons. Some of whom he patronised include Dr B R Ambedkar and Dadabhai Naoroji. During his rule, Vadodara came to be recognised as a centre of education.
Gaekwad used to visit England every year to select outstanding young people to join his service and in one such visit, he met a young Sri Aurobindo whom he immediately offered a job at Baroda College, he said.
On assuming reins, some of his (Gaekwad’s) first tasks included education of his subjects, uplifting of the downtrodden and effecting judicial, agricultural and social reforms, said Athawale.
He played a key role in the development of Baroda’s textile industry, and his educational and social reforms among others included ban on child marriage, legislation of divorce, removal of untouchability, spread of education, development of
Sanskrit, ideological studies and religious education as well as encouragement of fine arts, the minister said.
His economic development initiatives included the establishment of a railroad and founding of Bank of Baroda.
Fully aware of the fact that he was a Maratha ruler of Gujarat, he identified himself with the people and shaped their cosmopolitan attitude, progressive as well as reformist zeal, Athawale said.
Hence, it will be appropriate to name the Vadodara airport after this reformist ruler, he said.
Also, it has been a long pending demand of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation, the Federation of Gujarat Industries, M S University of Baroda and other elected members of the Parliament from the city.