Jobs @ MG
Re-naming: make-believe game
By A.N. Shibli
|After a successful attempt to distort
history textbooks by filling them with wrong and dubious 'facts' and
saffronizing educational institutions, the Bharatiya Janata Party
Government in Uttar Pradesh has now decided to change the name of the
historical city Allahabad to Tirth Raj Prayagraj. Historians have heavily
criticized the U.P. government's decision to do so.
Criticizing the decision of UP chief minister, the general secretary of
Loktantric Congress Party (LCP), Mr Seraj Mehdi said ‘the Chief Minister
has taken this decision under the pressure of the RSS. He should have
consulted other coalition partners by convening a meeting of the
coordination committee before announcing his decision to change the name
of Allahabad. Mehdi further said that such a decision should only be taken
after evolving a consensus among the coalition partners. As Allahabad is a
historical name, the chief minister should not raise any controversy by
changing its name.’ This is not the first time when the BJP decided to
change the name of historical places or cities. A similar, but
unsuccessful, attempt was made in 1992 when the then Chief Minister Kalyan
Singh decided to change the names of Faizabad to 'Saket,' Mughal Sarai to
'Deen Dayal Upadhaya Nagar,' Aligarh to 'Harigarh,' Lucknow to 'Lakshmanpuri,'
Kanpur to 'Khankar Vidyarthi Nagar,' Allahabad to Teerthraj Prayag' and
the famous Hazrat Mahal Park in Lucknow to 'Urmila Vatika.'
Although the move did not get the statutory permission of the central
government, but this writer found many boards in Aligarh with 'Harigarh'
written on them instead. Even a school in Aligarh district had Harigarh on
In 1992 a strong attempt was made to re-name the historical city Lucknow
as Lakshmanpuri. Then the mayor of the city strongly resisted the proposal
of the state government saying that ‘Lucknow is the identification of
the Indian culture and it will be protected. Nobody would be allowed to
change or even to think of changing the name of Lucknow,’ he said.
Lucknow is a city which has been mentioned in the writings of different
noted writers of the world.
In 1995 the Bharatiya Janata Party Government in Gujarat decided to change
the name of Ahmedabad to 'Karnawati.' Under the BJP leadership the
Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation sent a proposal to the state government to
change the name of the historical city. But the state government refused
it. After this refusal the BJP withdrew its support to the Government in
the state. Shiv Sena mouthpiece Samna refers to Aurangabad as 'Sambhaji
Nagar.' In 1995 when Shiv Sena’s Sunanda Kohle was elected as the city
mayor some enthusiastic Shiv Sainiks blackened Aurangabad at the city
bus-stand and disturbed peace in the city. Lok Sabha MP Mareshwar Save
said at the time: ‘the city should be renamed after Sambhaji who did not
convert to Islam even in the face of atrocities.’
In 1996 Shiv Sena members demanded to rename the 300-year-old Haji Malang
Dargah in Mumbai. The Dargah is revered by all communities. Shiv Sainiks
demanded that it should be named ‘Shree Malang’ instead of Haji Malang.
Shiv Sainiks had put up boards of ‘Welcome to Shree Malang’ and had
made the situation tense in the city.
It is not that names of places and cities have not been changed in India
in the past. But the changes have been done to pronounce them easily. But
the BJP government, which no doubt has an exclusivist-extremist agenda, is
trying to change the names on the basis of caste and religion.
Faizabad was established during the 'Muslim' rule. Those who are trying to
change it don’t ponder over the fact that no 'Muslim' ruler ever
attempted to change the name of Ayodhya. But the bigots are trying to
change the name of 'Faizabad,' a city which was founded by 'Muslims' and
was the capital of Awadh till 1784 when the Nawwab moved to Lucknow.
In the national capital, Delhi, local politicians are trying to change the
names of Muslim dominated areas with Hindu names. There is a plan to
change the name of New Jafarabad as 'Sadanandpuri Extension' and Babarpur
as 'New Mangarhi.' Against this attempt last year in August an NGO,
Anjuman Millat-e-Islamia, moved a petition in the court.
A majority of historians think that it is politics more than history and
culture which forces politicians to raise the issue of changing the names
of historical places and cities. Every name of any city and place has an
historical importance. Therefore there should be no attempt to change the
name of any city or place. The centre should stop this type of unwarranted
attempts to fragment India’s cultural heritage. q