Regional parties in Maharashtra are reasserting themselves by voicing their stands on the controversy over renaming of Aurangabad city as Sambhajinagar.
Latest to join the issue is the Samajwadi Party, which urged the ruling Shiv Sena to focus on development and not get into renaming politics. SP president Abu Azmi said, “I personally urge Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray not to behave like Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister (Yogi Adityanath).” The reference was in context of the UP CM’s decision to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj.
“The progress of Maharashtra will be through development and not renaming of any city. Aurangabad has its own history and culture which should be retained,” he asserted.
“What purpose does it serve by forcing your decision on people against their wishes. It would lead to communal unrest between Hindus and Muslims,” Azmi said. “Instead, the CM should build new cities and districts and name them Sambhaji Nagar. If it so wishes let them name Maharashtra after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Let them call it Shivajirashtra. Raigad was the abode of Shivaji and Sambhaji. Why are they not renaming Raigad as Sambhajinagar,” he asked.
The SP opposition comes a week after the Congress protested against renaming the historical city. The MNS has seized the opportunity to score against the Sena. MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar said, “Nobody is disputing the fact that renaming Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar was late Bal Thackeray’s dream. The question we are asking is, will the Sena show courage to accomplish it? The Sena is the ruling party. The CM is from the Sena.”
The AIMIM, which is a political force to reckon with in Aurangabad with sitting Lok Sabha MP Imtiaz Jaleel, has termed the controversy a political ploy which resurfaces every election. Imtiaz said, “The AIMIM is not against Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj nor Sambhaji. But the point is, how does renaming help a city and its people. Will change of name bring development and prosperity. The government is using these issues to divert the public from its own failures.”
Last week state Congress chief and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat and PWD Minister Ashok Chavan had said they would not allow the renaming of Aurangabad city. Unlike the Congress which has publicly opposed the renaming, the NCP is cautious and underplaying it.