More than 1,200 km from Aurangzeb Road in Delhi which has been renamed after former President A P J Abdul Kalam, a strong move is underway to de-link the historical association of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb with Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
Chandrakant Khaire, the Shiv Sena Member of Parliament from Aurangabad, said, “I have already started the requisite paperwork to initiate the process for renaming the city. I have written letters to all the ministers concerned and have been assured that the Maharashtra Cabinet will take up the issue on September 17.”
The historical city of Aurangabad was built by Aurangazeb in 1653. The Shiv Sena, which claims the Mughal emperor who faced off against Maratha warrior king Shivaji was a tyrant and opposed to Hindus, is keen on renaming the city.
The issue of renaming Aurangabad was first taken up by Sena supremo Bal Thackeray who had, at a public rally in 1985, said the city’s name should be changed to “Sambhajinagar” after Shivaji’s son.
Census data shows that Aurangabad has 30 per cent Muslim population. And the call for renaming it has polarised the city where the Shiv Sena has had an uninterrupted control of the city corporation since the mid-80s. The Sena-led municipal corporation has passed various resolutions seeking the renaming of the city. The proposal was, however, struck down by the government in power.
The only exception was in 1995 when the Shiv Sena-BJP government ruling Maharashtra issued a notification to rename the city. The notification was, however, challenged in court which said that status quo should be maintained. However, with the BJP-Sena back in power, party leaders sound confident that the city will be renamed this time around.
But the move could face a stong opposition from parties such as the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen, which is the main opposition in the Aurangabad Corporation.
“Aurangabad is an international city. The Sena should work towards improving its infrastructure and making people’s lives better rather than rake up such issues. We will oppose the renaming and if the state still chooses to do so, we will challenge it in court,” said MIM MLA from Aurangabad Imtiyaz Jaleel.
Meanwhile, sources said the Sena is also keen on changing the name of Osmanabad, another district in Maharashtra, to Dharashiv.