Two factions, one backed by the RSS-BJP and the other by the Congress, are at loggerheads over the renaming of the town of Mughalsarai and its iconic Mughalsarai Railway Junction. The BJP government is keen to rename the town as Deen Dayal Upadhyay Nagar and the railway junction as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Railway Station after the RSS ideologue. The opposing Congress faction, meanwhile, wants that the town should take its name from former prime minister and Congress leader Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Though the move to rename the town is stalled at the city council level, the rechristening of the railway station has reached the state government.
Both the leaders have significant links with the town and the railway junction. Upadhyay was one of the most influential leaders of his time and his vision was part of what founded the present day RSS and BJP. He died in 1968 and his body was found on a platform of the Mughalsarai Railway Station in 1968 under mysterious circumstances. The town, on the other hand, is where Shastri was born. The former prime minister was, for however small a time he served in office, one of the most respected and decisive leaders of his time.
This is the birth centenary year of Upadhyay and the BJP and the RSS have been busy commemorating him. On Tuesday, the UP Cabinet wrote to the Union Railways Ministry to change the name of the station as part of the centenary celebrations.
At the same time, there was a protest led by the city Congress Committee president Ramji Gupta and Shastri Janamsthal Seva Nyas convenor Krishna Gupta at Shastri Park in Mughalsarai on Wednesday. The agitating crowd even tried to burn the effigies of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, but their protest dispersed after police intervention.
“First of all, we are not in favour of changing the name of the town or the railway junction at all. If the BJP or the RSS wants to change the names after Deen Dayal Upadhyay, they should do it where he had a contribution. Not here. This place is the birthplace of Lal Bahadur Shastri. He has had a huge impact on the lives of every citizen and it is seen even today,” Ramji Gupta told indianexpress.com.
Gupta said they were on an indefinite strike at Shastri Park in support of their demands.
“Our agitation will continue till our demand is not met. Either the move to rename is revoked or names are kept after Shastriji. Nobody from RSS or their political friends built Mughalsarai. It was Kamalmati Tripathi who built the infrastructure here, who built this junction, who boosted jobs in Mughalsarai? “We have told our [UP] Pradesh Congress chief about the development and we requested for the intervention of senior leadership,” Gupta added.
A special session of the Mughalsarai Municipal Board was held on Monday where the BJP moved the proposal for the renaming of Mughalsarai town to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Nagar. Corporators of the SP, Congress and independent corporators protested and stalled the proposal from being passed.
RSS and its associate organisations have referred to Mughalsarai as Deen Dayal Upadhyay Nagar for nearly four decades now. The demands for memorials of Shastri are also long standing.
The name Mughalsarai is made of the words Mughal and Sarai (public resting place). In the Mughal era, caravans travelling from east India towards the north would take the Grand Trunk Road. Their stopping place used to be just between Chandauli Majhwar and Jeonathpur–this is the present day Mughalsarai near Varanasi. For the same reason, many other towns across India have the same name.