Written by Sumit Kanna
Ahmedabad, India (Reuters) – The government in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat has decided to change the name of the dragon fruit because it feels the original name is associated with China, which was ridiculed by the country’s opposition on Wednesday.
India and China are currently embroiled in a military confrontation on the now-competing Himalayan border, with New Delhi responding to the killing of 20 of its troops in June by banning Chinese-made utilities and restricting imports.
The Gujarat government has decided that the term “dragon fruit” is not appropriate and is associated with China. The shape of the fruit is like a lotus, so we have given it a new Sanskrit name, Kamalam. There is no politics in this, ”Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Roupani told the media on Tuesday.
The lotus, or Kamal as it is called in Hindi, is the symbol of Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Rupani of the BJP said the fruit would henceforth be called Kamalam in the state.
The development comes just months after Modi praised farmers on a radio show for cultivating dragon fruit in the arid region of Gujarat.
“After that the farmers approached me and suggested changing the name of the dragon fruit to Kamalam,” BJP MP Vinod Chaudhary told Reuters from the party.
“I am happy that the government has accepted this plan.”
There are more than 200 farmers in the party alone and they are cultivating more than 1,500 acres of dragon fruit, said Haresh Thacker, a farmer from the area.
“We are very happy with the Indian name of the fruit. We feel that accepting the fruit as an Indian fruit will increase its acceptance,” said Thackeray, who has been growing Dragon fruit for five years.
This fruit is grown in the neighboring state of Maharashtra and in Northeast India. There is no indication that local governments are planning a name change.
The opposition called the Congress name change a gimmick.
“It is useless for the government to show achievements and try to divert attention from real issues,” said Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Toshi.
(Sumit Khanna Report in Ahmedabad; Editing by Alastair Paul and Raju Gopalakrishnan)