June 30, 2022 12:01:40 am
The Congress stood solidly with Shiv Sena as the latter battled a bitter internal war in the last one week or so, but the Uddhav Thackeray government’s decision on Wednesday to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar and Osmanabad as Dharashiv has left a section of the Congress unhappy.
A section of the party believes ministers in the Thackeray-led government from the Congress should have disassociated themselves from the decision, registering their dissent or staging a symbolic walkout.
The decision to rename the cities was seen as the embattled Thackeray-led Sena’s last-ditch effort to send a message that it has not diluted its Hindutva credentials, one senior Congress leader said. The Congress should not have been part of that decision, some party leaders said.
Sources said some of the party’s Maharashtra leaders had reached out to K C Venugopal, the AICC general secretary in charge of organisation, and Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and sought their intervention, but claimed the high command did not intervene.
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According to sources, the party high command was apprehensive that there could be a backlash from the Hindu community if the party distanced itself from the decision to rename these places. The Congress’s Maharashtra leadership had opposed the move to rename these cities in the past.
“They (Sena) got the Congress co-opted into it,” one senior party leader said. “Sena wanted to score a point on Hindutva. Now the Congress has become a party to that decision. We got sucked into the decision. We will have to face the consequences.”
The Congress had hit out at the BJP in 2018 when reports emerged that the Centre had given its go-ahead for renaming at least 25 towns and villages across the country. The party had then alleged that the BJP neither understood the pride of India nor its identity, character or definition.
“Today, I will change the history of the last 500 years; tomorrow you will change my history by changing the history of 500 years before that,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi had then said. “After that, a third person will come, who will change the history of the last one thousand years, and then, a fourth person will come, who will change ancient India’s 2,500-year-old history…”
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