MUMBAI: Uddhav Thackeray is smarting once again, from the blow dealt by a name. First he lost the name of his party, Shiv Sena, which was the legacy of his father and now he has lost the opportunity to gain political mileage out of the recent renaming of Aurungabad and Osmanabad districts in Maharashtra to Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar and Dharashiv, respectively.
The Ministry of Home Affairs recently gave its approval for the renaming of the two places. A proposal on the renaming was first mooted by the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in 2019 when it had come to power, after joining hands with the Congress.
But the coalition never pursued this proposal wholeheartedly since display of pride in Hindutva icons was never its priority. Thackeray had to compromise on the Hindutva agenda to retain the chief minister’s post and power in Maharashtra.
The name game
Now Chief Minister Eknath Shindeled Shiv Sena has once again won the naming battle by taking a fresh decision on the renaming of the two districts and successfully persuading the Centre to give it a go-ahead. In fact, it was the Sena government which had started the trend of renaming of landmarks in the mid-90s when it had come to power for the first time.
With the party itself having been named after the 17th century icon Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who had established the Maratha empire in the country, Shiv Sena has for long been championing renaming of places after him. Several Mumbai landmarks, including the Victoria Terminus and Prince of Wales Museum, as well as the airport, were then renamed after Shivaji.
Politics of the noun
Heavy on nationalism and Hindu pride, the Modi Government has been working with focus; hence the renaming of Allahabad to Prayagraj, Faizabad to Ayodhya and railway junction of Mughalsarai to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Nagar. More plans to rename cities are afoot, most notable being the renaming of Ahmedabad as Karnavati.
The Congress Government was no less in usurping names and using them to propagate its image. According to an RTI query in 2013, at least 12 central and 52 state schemes, 28 sports tournaments and trophies, 19 stadiums, five airports and ports, 98 educational institutions, 51 awards, 15 fellowships, 15 national sanctuaries and parks, 39 hospitals and medical institutions, 37 other institutions, chairs and festivals and 74 roads, buildings and places were named after Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi during the 60-year reign of the party since Independence.
Two new names
Aurangabad derived its name from Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, while Osmanabad was named after the last ruler of the princely state of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan. This region was part of Hyderabad till 1948. Chhatrapati Sambhaji was the eldest son of Chhatrapati Shivaji and was the second ruler of the Maratha state founded by his father. He was executed on Aurangzeb’s orders in 1689. The new name of Osmanabad, i.e., Dharashiv, is the name of a cave complex near the city which dates back to 7th century.
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