Gorkha Rashtriya Congress suggests five names for Bagdogra airport

After the BJP opened the Pandora’s Box, demands to rename the Bagdogra airport have started rising thick and fast, with the latest demand coming from the Gorkha Rashtriya Congress (GRC), a Hills political party inclined towards merger of Darjeeling with Sikkim.

The Bagdogra airport terminal.
The Bagdogra airport terminal.

The five names shortlisted by GRC for renaming Bagdogra are: Ari Bahadur Gurung, Ganju Lama and Savitri Devi, Darjeeling and Denzong. GRC has earlier started a campaign seeking opinion and recommendations from political outfits, associations and the general people for a suitable name for Bagdogra airport.

On Friday, senior leaders of the party submitted a memorandum to the Darjeeling district administration to place their demand. “We met the district magistrate today and submitted a memorandum with our recommendations to rename the Bagdogra airport in Siliguri, to be placed to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Civil Aviation minister in Delhi. We have shortlisted five possible names connected with Darjeeling and Sikkim,” said GRC working president Asoke Lepcha said in a Press briefing.

According to the GRC, Gurung’s name was shortlisted as he was a member of the committee that drafted the Indian constitution. Gurung is from Darjeeling. Lama is a Victoria Cross recipient and Savitri Devi also known as Helen Lepcha was the first female from the region, to participate in India’s Swaraj movement. Both of them are from Sikkim.

The name Darjeeling airport was selected because of brand Darjeeling and the large arrivals  of national and international visitors. The last name Denzong airport was chosen because earlier the Darjeeling and Sikkim region was known as “Valley of Rice” and also to exemplify the relation between the two areas.

“Our party’s opinion is to rename Bagdogra airport as Denzong airport because our political agenda relates to the merger of Darjeeling with Sikkim. Historically, too, Darjeeling was part of Sikkim and never of Bengal. However, the other names selected are based on people’s recommendations that we got through our campaign,” GRC president Nima Lama said.

When reminded that the name of legendary mountaineer Tenzing Norgay Sherpa was also in the run, the GRC working president said, “Tenzing Norgay already has a mountain in Pluto, roads and bus terminus named after him. We feel there are others too in region that deserves to be honoured with due respect to the mountaineer”.

The GRC will also write to the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the chief ministers of Bengal and Sikkim to recommend to the Centre one the names from the five shortlisted.
BJP MP Tarun Vijay, an ardent follower of Syama Prasad Mookerjee, had set the ball rolling by meeting Union civil aviation minister P Ashok Gajapati Raju and placing the demand to rename Bagdogra airport after Jana Sangh founder and BJP’s inspiration Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee.

Since then demand has also been made by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and also by family members and Sherpa community to rename Bagdogra airport after Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, the first man along with Sir Edmund Hillary, to set foot on Mount Everest in May 1953.


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