Days before Kumbh Mela, the Union Home Ministry has approved the Uttar Pradesh government’s proposal to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj. The move is being seen as a push of the BJP government’s Hindutva agenda before the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
A No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the MHA will now ensure that names of other institutes in the district, including railway station, High Court and university, are also changed. In October last year, the Yogi Adityanath-led government had proposed the change in name of Allahabad to Prayagraj.
A government statement cited “board researched documents” behind the name change and found that “there were 14 Prayags in the country but only one here, also known as King of all Prayags”.
Confirming the move, a senior home ministry official told The Indian Express, “There are some Central institutes, High Court, railway station and organisations named after Allahabad. Letters have been sent to other Central ministries informing that the Home Ministry has approved the proposal of the UP government. The state government will now get approval from other Central ministries and change the names accordingly.”
“We had sought a report from Intelligence Bureau (IB), Geographical Survey of India (GSI), Department of Post and Ministry of Earth Sciences. There were no adverse reports from any agency following which a NOC was issued,” another Home Ministry official said.
Under the government guidelines for the renaming of railway stations, villages, towns and cities, it is mandatory to obtain a NOC from the Union Home Ministry by the respective state government. MHA had earlier approved the renaming of the British-era railway station Robertsgang as Sonbhadra, Farah Town railway station near Mathura and iconic Mughalsarai junction after Deen Dayal Upadhyay — both in Uttar Pradesh.
The Opposition parties had criticised the government’s move to change the name of Allahabad. The Congress had termed the decision as changing the history. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had tweeted that the BJP government only wanted to show that they were working by renaming Allahabad.
There has been much debate around decisions to rename cities, roads, stations and airports in the country. Several political parties have indulged in bringing about these superficial changes but are now crying foul.
Recently, the Centre approved the renaming of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai as Chhatrapati Shivaji ‘Maharaj’ International Airport. Earlier, the BJP government in Tripura had got approval to change the name of Agartala Airport as Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Kishore, the erstwhile ruler of the state.