EVEN as the issue of renaming of Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar has triggered a political controversy again, the constituents of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi have sought to know from the BJP-led central government why it has failed to approve the renaming of Aurangabad district, and the renaming of Chikalthana airport after Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj.
“The Congress has objected to the renaming of Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar… this is an old stand of the Congress. The Shiv Sena had renamed Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar 30 years ago but the Centre has not yet approved its renaming,” said Sena chief spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut.
Raut said the BJP-led central government has approved the renaming of Allahabad as Prayagraj, Faizabad as Ayodhya, and Delhi’s Aurangzeb Road to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road. “If these cities and roads can be renamed, then why didn’t the BJP government approve the renaming of Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar,” asked Raut.
The renaming issue surfaced again on Friday after state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat said the issue was not before the MVA government and if it comes to the fore, the Congress will oppose it. “The renaming issue is not part of the Common Minimum Programme of the MVA government,” Thorat had said.
Congress spokesperson Gopal Tiwarie said,”The party state chief has already articulated the party’s stand about it… Attempts are being made to cause fissures in the MVA government. However, the BJP will have to explain why it has failed to rename Chikalthana airport after Sambhaji Maharaj? A resolution was unanimously passed by the MVA government about 8-9 months ago, to rename the airport as Dharmaveer Sambhaji Maharaj airport, and sent to the central government. The Chikalthana airport is in Aurangabad district. However, the central government is still sitting on the proposal. The BJP has no right to point fingers at the MVA government.”
Raut said, “Whatever Thorat has said is true. MVA government is being run as per the Common Minimum Programme. The government is committed to ensuring food, clothing and shelter for the poor, and the welfare of labourers.”
He added, “Muslims in Maharashtra have forgotten Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb and Aurangabad are no longer election issues. The Muslim community does not want unnecessary controversy. They want development and welfare and the MVA is trying to ensure that. This has not gone down well with the BJP, which is feeling nervous and indulging in petty politics.”
NCP spokesperson Umesh Patil said,”… Sena has been demanding renaming of Aurangabad and Osmanabad for years. They had renamed Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar but it needed central approval.”
Stating that Sena’s demand will not affect the MVA government, Patil said by renaming Aurangabad, the development status of the district will not change. “If it is renamed, Aurangabad will suddenly not become a developed city. As of now, renaming it is not our priority and it is not a part of the Common Minimum Programme of the three parties. The NCP is committed to going by the CMP, and renaming it is not part of the CMP,” he said.
BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhaye said though the BJP and Shiv Sena are on the same page when it comes to renaming Aurangabad after Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje, the “Sena revives the demand only when elections are round the corner”.
“Our demand is consistent and we are serious about it. However, for the Shiv Sena, the renaming is about making it an election issue to garner votes.. the Aurangabad civic elections are scheduled to be held soon… The Sena is not serious about renaming of Aurangabad,” claimed Upadhaye.
State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said, “Now that the Congress is opposing the renaming of Aurangabad, the Shiv Sena should clarify its position.”
State AIMIM chief and MP Imtiaz Jaleel said, “The AIMIM is not opposed to renaming Aurangabad, but does renaming solve the problems of the district? It is being projected as if we are opposed to the names of Chhatrapati Shivaji and Sambhaji Maharaj, we are not. But let them first ensure the development of Aurangabad and then talk about renaming. Renaming is a part of deeper political game of parties. They want to make it big issue to divert people’s attention from their failures. Whenever elections approach, the renaming issue is brought to the fore. It is more of an election issue….”
Jaleel said Aurangabad has a history, a heritage and a legacy which cannot be wiped out. “Naming a city or district or railway station after a personality who has no connection with it does not sound good. Aurangabad has a long history which should not be wiped out,” he said.
Meanwhile, the MNS has also demanded the renaming of Aurangabad. MNS workers in Nashik removed boards from Nashik-Aurangabad state transport buses and replaced them with boards mentioning Sambhajinagar.
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