CHURUMURI POLL: Tipu Sultan vs Kempe Gowda?

The Bangalore International Airport is due to open on Friday, 23 May 2008, and already the battlelines are being drawn—and redrawn. On the one hand, the captains of Bangalore industry are out on the streets demanding that the old HAL airport be kept open keeping in mind Bangalore’ future potential. And, on the other hand, a right royal battle has broken out over the name of the new airport.

BIAL had perhaps thought that the issue could be swept under the carpet by calling it Bengaluru International Airport. But the CPM’s Sitaram Yechuri has said it should be named after Tipu Sultan, who was born in Devanahalli where the new airport is located. And now the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike has jumped into the scene, demanding that the airport be named after Kempe Gowda.

Questions: Who should the airport be named after? Tipu or Gowda? Are there other worthies deserving of the honour? Sir M. Visvesvaraya maybe? How much longer before someone demands that it be named after Dr Raj Kumar? Is this just a meaningless debate or a genuine expression of identity? If airports in Bombay and Delhi and Hyderabad, and Chicago and New York and Paris can be named after towering individuals, why not Bangalore’s?