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Ab, Laxman ke naam: Yogi Adityanath’s tweet, statue set off talk of Lucknow renaming

The theory that 'Lucknow' is a distorted version of what was originally a name inspired by Lord Ram's brother Laxman is one of several regarding the city's name.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow |
Updated: May 19, 2022 10:47:26 am
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, right, arrive for a meeting with state ministers, in Lucknow, India, Monday, May 16, 2022. (AP)

In his first tenure, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath fulfilled two long-pending demands with the renaming of Faizabad district as ‘Ayodhya’ and Allahabad as ‘Prayagraj’. Could Lucknow be next?

Adityanath set off feverish speculation regarding this when, on Monday, welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Uttar Pradesh capital, he tweeted: “Sheshavatar Bhagwan Laxman ki pawan nagri Lucknow mein aapka swagat aur abhinandan (Welcome to the holy city of Lord Laxman).”

The theory that ‘Lucknow’ is a distorted version of what was originally a name inspired by Lord Ram’s brother Laxman is one of several regarding the city’s name. However, the BJP has long embraced the Laxman theory, with several of its leaders periodically raising the demand that Lucknow be renamed “Lakshmanpuri”.

Besides, Adityanath’s tweet indicating the government’s intention to project Lucknow as the city of Laxman, if not rename it, came days after Lucknow Mayor Sanyukta Bhatiya unveiled plans by Lucknow Municipal Corporation to set up a 151-feet-tall statue of Laxman along the Gomti river.

During Adityanath’s first regime, veteran BJP leader and present Governor of Rajasthan Kalraj Mishra had demanded that Lucknow be renamed Laxmanpuri.

If this done by consensus, he said, it would help people connect with the culture of that era.

While the decision for a statue was taken during the term of the last municipal corporation term, the place of installation could not be finalised, and it was subsequently put on the backburner following Covid. Polls to elect the next municipal corporation are round the corner.

Bhatiya told The Indian Express that the corporation had sent the proposal for location along the Gomti to the government. She said her administration would not just install a grand statue of Laxman but also “restore the glory of Laxmanpuri”, as a gateway to Ayodhya, the city of Ram.

“When I became the Mayor of Lucknow, my first desire was to connect the city with its history. Our city was known initially as Laxman as Laxmanpuri but the name slowly got converted to Lucknow. History shows that it was the city of Laxman, whose dedication to his people was no less than that of Ram, for whom a temple is being built,” Bhatiya said, adding that their hope was that the Laxman statue would emerge as a “prerna sthal (inspiration point)”, and a must halt for pilgrims going to or returning from Ayodhya.

The Mayor said Rs 15 crore had already been set aside for the statue by the corporation, and it was raising more funds for a grand base. “This base would be kind of a museum on Laxman, showing the history of Laxmanpuri… We plan to connect the entire project with riverfront development.”

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SP leader Rajendra Chaudhary said, “It is not surprising that they are now talking about Lucknow as the land of Lakshman as this is in accordance with their agenda. Their agenda does not include future planning for the poor, deprived or unemployed.”

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