New Delhi: A war of words has broken out in the political circle in Kerala over the Centre’s move to the name the second campus of Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) after late Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue M.S. Golwalkar. Both ruling CPI-M and opposition Congress have expressed apprehension over the move. Also Read - Tripura Congress Chief's Car Attacked Allegedly by BJP Workers, Party Calls For Strike

“What is MSG’s contribution to science, other than promoting the disease of communalism?” roared Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha MP and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor. “As for former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s contribution, he inspired scientific innovation and allocated funds for it. Are there no BJP icons who’ve at least tried to do the same thing? Must the government of India memorialise a bigoted Hitler-admirer who in a 1966 speech to the VHP asserted the supremacy of religion over science,” asked Tharoor. Also Read - Fire in Parcel Van of Malabar Express in Kerala, No Injury Reported

Meanwhile, senior CPI-M politburo member and former Kerala Minister M.A. Baby said “the development is most unfortunate and cruel”. Also Read - Shatabdi Roy Meets Mamata's Nephew Abhishek Banerjee, Says She Is Not Leaving TMC

“This has been done purposely to drive a wedge in the Kerala society. It is unacceptable and the people of Kerala should oppose this strongly,” said Baby.

Two-time former Congress Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the institute was started by late Congress leader G. Karthikeyan as a society and it was later taken over by the state during then Chief Minister K Karunakaran’s term.

“Later, then Manmohan Singh government had sanctioned Rs 100 crore for it. In my last term, we also sanctioned land for the institute. Do not know what is the significance of this new name of one who has had no role at all. This shows that if one has power, they will go to any extent to do anything,” said Chandy.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stating that it was most painful and it should not be allowed.

On the other hand, state BJP spokesperson B. Gopalakrishnan said it has now become fashionable for the opposition parties to come out with stock statements like communal and what not.

“They have nothing to find fault with Modi, as there are no corruption issues. Those who know about Golwalkar will never say things like this. What has been done is that the new campus building has been named after him. Please understand the name of the institution will continue to be known as RGCB only. The opposition leaders are jumping up and down,” said Gopalakrishnan.

On Friday, Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan said: “I am happy to understand that this research facility will be named as ‘Shri Guruji Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar National Centre for Complex Disease in Cancer and Viral Infection’.”

He was addressing an RGCB-organised curtain-raiser session of the sixth edition of India International Science Festival (IISF) scheduled for December 22-25.

(With agency inputs)