‘Maidan’ in Mangaluru shuttling between ‘Nehru’ and ‘Central’ in Cong-BJP scuffle

Mangaluru: The city’s central ground opposite Police Commissioner’s office has a deep history of housing the first cricket association back in the un-unified Karnataka state and also for having the country’s first Prime Minister taking the stage on the pavilion after which it was named Nehru Maidan. The ground was recently embroiled in a local controversy due to the opposition (BJP) party since they believe Jawaharlal Nehru was not a staunch nationalist.

It has been around two years since the BJP and the other right wing members began calling it Kendra (central) Maidan when Narendra Modi last came to the city for his election campaign. After the Congress state government led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah inaugurated Nehru’s statue in “Kendra Maidan” on the occasion of Indira Gandhi’s centenary birth anniversary, District In-charge Minister Ramanath Rai commented on the issue challenging the opposition to call it Kendra Maidan as Nehru’s statue stands tall there now.

Giving a brief history of the maidan, former mayor of Mangaluru City and President of Dakshina Kannada Cricket Academy, Mahabala Maarla told that there is a history behind why the ground is called “Nehru Maidan”. “On a Christmas day back in 1951, India’s first elected Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited Mangaluru for the very first time. He addressed the citizens here on 25 December 1951 from the pavilion constructed by the South Canara Cricket Association. Ever since, Central Maidan came to be known as Nehru Maidan”, Mahabala Maarla recollected.However, half a century after this historic event, one can see a statue of Nehru outside Corporation Bank Head Office and a bust at the Town Hall entrance.   In this regard, leader of the opposition party, Roopa D Bangera mentioned that the right wing parties did not have anything against Jawaharlal Nehru since he was the first Prime Minister but the Congress Party here had taken things for granted and installed another statue of Nehru without bothering to maintain another statue well.

“The BJP members do not wish to disrespect Jawaharlal Nehru, but it does not make sense to have three statues of Nehru within such a small radius. Jyothi Circle is infact called Ambedkar Circle and a memorial statue of Dr. B R Ambedkar could have been installed there to pay our respects to the person who drafted our Constitution”, Roopa hinted.

“The move to erect Nehru’s statue in Nehru Maidan was just to create discrepancy among us because we call it Central Maidan. Ramanath Rai could not uphold the reason for installing the statue since funds were not granted from the state government. So the Mangaluru City Corporation had to allot Rs. 50 Lakh for this statue all by itself”, she said.



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