Vivekananda memorial proposal sparks debate

A controversy over a memorial for social reformer Swami Vivekananda is gathering momentum, with Mayor Soumini Jain proposing to install it on a holding, which was identified earlier for setting up a memorial for the late CPI(M) leader T.K. Ramakrishnan.

The Mayor has written to the Chief Minister seeking permission to set up a garden library in the holding in memory of the social reformer.

The 15-cent holding, owned by the corporation, is located between boat jetty and Subash Bose Park. The move is likely to spark off protests by fellow partymen and admirers of the Marxist leader.

The letter, which starts with Vivekananda Jayanthi greetings to the Chief Minister, notes that it is a shortcoming for the city that it has no memorial for Vivekananda, who had even visited Kochi.

It is also a publicly accepted fact that a memorial should be set up for Vivekananda. A garden library will be an ideal memorial at a time when the nation is celebrating Vivekananda Jayanthi as Youth Day, the Mayor wrote.

Ms. Jain also suggested that it would be ideal to set up a memorial for Ramakrishnan at Thripunithura, his hometown.

Responding to the move, CPI(M) district secretary P. Rajeev said that the suggestion had stemmed out of the political ignorance of the Mayor whose exposure to politics began only after becoming a councillor of the corporation.

“No one is opposed to the setting up of a memorial for Vivekananda, and it could be decided through discussions. The decision to set up a memorial for Ramakrishnan was taken after a series of deliberations,” he said.

Mr. Rajeev added that it was improper to limit the memory of Ramakrishnan to a locality as he was a leader who was widely respected across the State.

The CPI(M) leader also criticised the Mayor for failure to set up a memorial for poet G. Sankara Kurup in the city.