An order by the Andhra Pradesh government on Monday evening dropping the name of former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam from an ongoing meritorious student scheme had to be withdrawn after it faced stiff opposition.
The government order (GO Ms no. 78), issued by the secretary of school education B Vijaya Kumar, sought to rename “APJ Abdul Kalam Pratibha Puraskar,” awarded to meritorious students in Class X examinations, as “YSR Vidya Puraskar” in the name of late YS Rajasekhar Reddy, former chief minister of combined Andhra Pradesh and the father of now CM Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Within hours, the order kicked up a major political row with the opposition Telugu Desam Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party criticising replacing the name of Abdul Kalam with YSR for the school award scheme.
The decision was met with protests and there were negative comments on the social media. The chief minister cancelled the order, restoring the name of Abdul Kalam for the award.
A spokesman of the CM’s office said the CM pulled up the officials for issuing the order without his knowledge.
“He warned the officials and firmly told them to continue the name of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam for the meritorious student award. He also ordered that such awards be presented in the names of Mahatma Gandhi, Ambedkar, Jyothiba Phule and Jagjivan Ram,” the spokesman said.
The awards are distributed every year on November 11 on the occasion of birth anniversary of first Union education minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad which is observed as National Education Day.
Earlier, the government used to select these students from all over the state, but now the government has changed the guidelines and the awards will be given only to government school students. Further, the awards will be given at the district level.
Since morning, the copy of the order had gone viral on the social media under the hashtag hashtag #YSRCPInsultsAbdulKalam, attracting criticism from the political parties and common people across the state.
TDP president and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu tweeted: “Dr Kalam has accomplished much for the nation with his inspiring life. @ysjagan’s govt changing “APJ Abdul Kalam Pratibha Puraskar” to “YSR Vidya Puraskar” is a shocking method of self-aggrandizement at the cost of disrespecting a much-venerated man. #YSRCPInsultsAbdulKalam.”
Naidu’s son and MLC Nara Lokesh tweeted: “@ncbn introduced “Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Pratibha Puraskar” to inspire students. It has now been changed to “YSR Vidya Puraskar.” How has power gotten so much into the head of @ysjagan to disrespect a great visionary like Dr. Kalam?? Cancel the GO, save face! #YSRCPInsultsAbdulKalam”.
BJP national secretary Sunil Deodhar had criticised Jagan Reddy’s move and said that he has “insulted Bharat Ratna Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.”
Andhra BJP leader Lanka Dinakar accused the YSRCP government of suppressing the name of real heroes with that of kin in the dynasty. “It shows utmost arrogance in the decision taken by the state government by disrespecting the great scientist and former president of our nation,” he said.