Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying wrong remedies, they say! Don't you see this exact thing happening in Maharashtra today? One correct thing, wrong people, weak support and no solution. Remedy, well still remains to be seen. You by the end are 'a responsible citizen', so remain ignorant as they keep you! Huhh!
Sitting back in the relaxing chair, worrying less about the happenings, the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state of Maharashtra is playing well and safe in the ongoing 'Aurangabad name change' matter. "We don't have any problem. The decision would be acceptable to all. We'll pass a resolution on this if it came to power in the civic body", said Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil on Monday. This is probably a day after the official Twitter handle of the Maharashtra Chief Minister's office tweeted a cabinet decision naming Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar.
Why would not BJP support? The party has always wanted to set aside the 'displeasing' names and hoist the nationalist titles instead. So has Shiv Sena! Nashik, Pune, CST and more. Not only in Maharashtra, but the recent example we all know is of Prayagraj, the city in Uttar Pradesh, earlier known as Allahabad. But in Maharashtra, now 'may be' the ruling party Shiv Sena knows who its actual ally is! Shiv Sena CM Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray on Wednesday in a series of tweet noted that the cabinet had decided to rename Aurgabad to Sambhajinagar. This is post Congress's threat to dare change the name while they would oppose. How unreasonable!
The parties forming the Maha Vikas Aghadi have been spliting the war of words in this matter. "Changing names is not part of the common minimum programme of Mahavikas Aghadi. What difference does it make? Is it going to chane people's lives", Congress state chief Balasaheb Thorat. He also said he would speak to members of the government to express his disapproval. Meanwhile Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Abu Azmi, like 'Begani Shaadi me Abdulla Diwana', from nowhere has dared Maharashtra CM to change the state name after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Aurangabad was built in 1610 by Malik Ambar of the Nijamshahi dynasty. It was renamed Aurangabad by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb when he made it his capital. Aurangzeb, who lived in Aurangabad until his death, tortured and killed Chhatrapati Sambahji Maharaj, son of the Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. In the late 1980s, the Sena started to expand beyond the Mumbai-Thane region and came to power in the local body in the Aurganbad city. During the victory rally on May 8, 1988, Shiv Sena chief the late Balasaheb Thackeray announced that the city would be renamed Sambhaji Nagar. “Balasaheb had justified the renaming saying that Sambhaji Maharaj was kept captive by Aurangzeb who tortured and killed him,” said Chandrakant Khaire, former Sena MP from Aurangabad.
The Sena since then has been using Sambhaji Nagar instead of Aurangabad in political rhetoric and in the party newspaper Saamna. In 1995, the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) passed a resolution to rename Aurangabad as Sambhaji Nagar. The then Sena-led government in Maharashtra headed by CM Manohar Joshi issued a notification seeking public suggestions and objections on changing the city’s name. Then Congress corporator Mushtaq Ahmed challenged it in the High Court, which disposed of the matter stating that no decision had been taken. Since then, the renaming has been a contentious issue that resurfaces ahead of every election. It has now become a point of tension between the MVA alliance partners ahead of the AMC elections, likely to be held in the first quarter of this year.
Why the name matters-
The BJP has repeatedly taunted Sena about the difficulty of keeping an old promise with its new secular allies the Congress and NCP. In March 2020, the Maharashtra cabinet approved a proposal to rename the Aurangabad airport as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj Airport. However, this has not yet got the go-ahead from the Centre. Sources said the Divisional Commissioner has sent a report on the renaming of Aurangabad city to the government. Aurangabad city’s population of 11.75 lakh (Census 2011) includes 51% Hindus and 30.8% Muslims. The Lok Sabha seat is represented by Imtiaz Jaleel of AIMIM, who defeated four-time Sena MP Khaire in 2019. So, a decision to rename the city will resonate in the civic polls, as well as across the state.
Shiv Sena's take and BJP's stake-
The Sena is keen on the renaming to assert its Hindutva agenda, while the Congress is opposing the move for fear of upsetting its Muslim supporters in the city. If the Sena shows caution for the sake of the coalition, the BJP is likely to project it as a dilution of the Sena’s saffron credentials. Failure by the Congress to take on the Sena, on the other hand, will be projected by the AIMIM as a betrayal of the former’s secular credentials. The BJP hopes cornering the Sena would force it to go for broke, possibly causing a split in MVA. Talk of the Sena going for a Cabinet resolution on the renaming has elicited angry reactions from the Congress, but there is no definite indication that CM Uddhav Thackeray is about to take such a step. Other than its potential as a coalition divider, the issue also gives the BJP a weapon to mobilise its cadres ahead of the election.
But pushing this pedal hard could also backfire on the BJP. Its ally the Republican Party of India, which draws its votes from Muslims and Dalits in Aurangabad, has said it will oppose any move to rename the city. Also, the BJP may find itself sidelined if the war of statements between Sena and Congress makes these two parties the main opponents. The BJP, for its part, hopes that the RPI’s opposition will keep Congress from occupying that space fully. The NCP has so far been careful not to get caught in the war of words between its two allies. Deputy CM Ajit Pawar has only said the Opposition is trying to create a rift between the MVA allies and a decision on renaming would be taken collectively.
Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying wrong remedies, they say! Don't you see this exact thing happening in Maharashtra today? One correct thing, wrong people, weak support and no solution. Remedy, well still remains to be seen. You by the end are a responsible citizen, so remain ignorant as they keep you! Huhh!