Even as the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance partners sparred over the renaming of Aurangabad as Sambhaji Nagar, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday wrote to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, requesting a notification on the renaming of Aurangabad airport as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj Airport “at the earliest”.
Thackeray, who has been taunted by the BJP for being unable to rename the city after the Maratha king, reminded Puri of the state government’s decision and the Maharashtra Assembly resolution in this regard, appearing to point at the delay by the Centre in the matter.
“The state Cabinet has taken a decision to rename the Aurangabad airport after Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj. A resolution on the same was also passed unanimously in both Houses of the state legislature during the Budget Session,” Thackeray said in his letter, according to a statement from the chief minister’s office (CMO).
He also referred to the reminders sent by the chief secretary to the Civil Aviation ministry in this regard. “A notification to rename Aurangabad Airport as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj Airport should be issued at the earliest,” he added.
Thackeray, meanwhile, indulged in some low-key political signalling on the renaming of the city with a tweet, in which Aurangabad was mentioned as Sambhaji Nagar. The tweet was to announce a Cabinet decision taken on Wednesday to add 165 beds and create 360 posts in the Aurangabad government medical college and cancer hospital.
औरंगाबाद विमानतळाचे छत्रपती संभाजी महाराज विमानतळ असे नामकरण करण्याबाबत केंद्रीय नागरी उड्डयन मंत्रालयाने अधिसूचना काढावी, असे मुख्यमंत्री उद्धव बाळासाहेब ठाकरे यांनी केंद्रीय नागरी उड्डयन मंत्री @HardeepSPuri जी यांना स्मरण पत्र पाठवून कळवले आहे.
— Office of Uddhav Thackeray (@OfficeofUT) January 6, 2021
The tweet tagged Medical Education Minister Amit Deshmukh of the Congress, which has opposed the renaming. However, an official statement from the CMO referred to the city only as Aurangabad.
Thackeray’s letter to Puri comes in the backdrop of the war of words between Shiv Sena, Congress and BJP over the renaming of Aurangabad ahead of upcoming civic polls.
Reacting strongly to the CMO tweet, Balasaheb Thorat, Revenue Minister and state Congress president, said that the MVA government runs on the Common Minimum Program and renaming of cities is not a part of it. “We reiterate that to maintain social harmony, we strongly oppose renaming of any city,” said Thorat.
Without naming Thackeray, who heads the Directorate General of Information and Public Relations (DGIPR), Thorat said DGIPR should not name cities on its own. “While we adore Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, politics should not be played with his name. We should come together for the development of Aurangabad,” he added.
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