The Shiv Sena has decided to press its demand for renaming of Aurangabad city as Sambhajinagar thus causing some irritant to its alliance partner BJP which is not keen on supporting the controversial issues at the moment. The BJP lead government is already facing flak for its decision to ban the killing of cow/cattle albeit citing agriculture reasons.
The Sena which is ever looking for the emotive plank ahead of civic, assembly and parliament elections reckons that renaming issue always helps them to take the centre stage of Maharashtra politics. The party has decided to aggressively pursue the renaming issue as civic polls in Aurangabad will take place on April 22.
The Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has given the consent to the local leadership in Aurangabad to aggressively campaign. The senior Sena (MP) Chandrakant Khaire said, “Shiv Sena president Bal Thackeray had declared Auragabad city should be renamed as Sambhajinagar. How can anybody defy Balasaheb? Moreover, it is justified as people also want the city be renamed.” Sambhaji is the son of great warrior king Chatrapati Shivaji.
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The Sena workers believe Aurangabad derived its name after the Mughal emperor Auranzeb. Therefore, it should be replaced with SambhajiNagar.
However, Sena’s renaming politics is not just confined to kings and princess. It is aimed at polarising the society on Hindus and Muslims through such controversial subjects says NCP’s chief spokesperson Nawab Malik.
The minorities have a sizeable presence in Aurangabad. And emotive issues often trigger division that leads to polarisation of votes. The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen has also concentrated in Auranagabad from where it is represented by one MLA.
Sensing a threat from the MIM which is keen on making inroads in the local body elections, Samajwadi Party is also gearing up for the local polls. The SP leader Abu Azmi has threatened to counter Sena’s campaign which it believes is to target the Muslims.
Political observers maintain, “Every civic issue is going to get more controversial as it no longer is a contest confined to two mainstream parties Congress and BJP. There are Sena, MIM, Samajwadi Party, MNS et al.” Earlier, till 2008 Samajwadi Party with its very limited presence in few pockets was also seen as vote divider. Today, it faces a challenge from MIM which is also targeting Muslims vote bank. In areas where Congress is weak, MIM is trying to occupy the space. As in case of Nanded civic polls a couple of years ago when they won eight seats. However, after the debacle in Bandra(East) assembly by-polls, MIM and SP’s standing in local bodies is also questionable. MPCC president Ashok Chavan is meticulously working to ensure Congress’ presence in every local body polls. And also thwart MIM and SP from taking away their vote share in civic polls.
However, remaining of historical Aurangabad city was first discussed during 1995, when Sena and BJP for the first time formed the government in Maharashtra. However, after the Sena-BJP was voted out of power in 1999, the issue was relegated to the back burner. Yet, at local levels in every elections the Shiv Sena has demanded the naming of Auranagabad as Sambhajinagar. At the public rallies, Sena leaders often use Sambhajinagar instead of official Aurangabad to describe the city.
Not stopping there the Sena leaders also want the Auranagabad international airport to be renamed as Sambhajinagar International Airport on the lines of Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport at Mumbai and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport at Nagpur.