Close on the heels of renaming Allahabad as Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday announced that Faizabad district would henceforth be known as Ayodhya.
“Ayodhya is a symbol of our ‘aan, baan aur shaan’ (honour, pride and prestige),” he said at a grand “Deepotsav” event organised in the pilgrim town, about 120 km from State capital Lucknow.
“Nobody can do injustice to Ayodhya,” Mr. Adityanath said, adding that the holy city was identified with Lord Ram.
He also announced the setting up of a new airport in Ayodhya, named after Lord Ram, and a medical college in the name of king Dashrath, father of Lord Ram, in the district.
“Deepotsav is about starting a new tradition,” Mr. Adityanath said at the Ram Katha Park here on the eve of Diwali. The event was also attended by the First Lady of South Korea, Kim Jung-sook, and Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik.
Several projects, including those related to the redevelopment and beautification of “Ram Ki Paidi” and the stoppage of sewage disposal in the Sarayu river, were launched at the event.
“We have come to work for Ayodhya and a South Korean delegation has also come here to connect with its past. Ayodhya’s identity will remain with Ayodhya and this Korean delegation is a witness to that. I want to announce today that this district will now be known as Ayodhya as well,” the chief minister said.
A section of the crowd was also heard chanting “Mandir ka nirman karao” (build a temple).
In his address, Mr. Adityanath also hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and described the projects undertaken by the latter as akin to a “Ram Rajya”.
Ayodhya is known around the world for Lord Ram and the festival of Diwali is celebrated due to the legend of him returning home from “vanvas” (exile).
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi had started the Janakpur to Ayodhya bus service and therefore, to take the Ayodhya-Nepal relationship forward, I will go to Janakpur with seers,” Mr. Adityanath said.
“We have kept our memories alive, so that no one can disturb our memories. We have our traditions which we want to take forward,” he added.
Later, on the banks of the Sarayu river, a new world record was also set with over three lakh “diya” (earthen lamps) lit up simultaneously, officials said.
“A total of 3,01,152 earthen lamps were lit up simultaneously for five minutes, which is a new record,” Rishi Nath, official adjudicator of the Guinness World Records, said in the presence of Mr. Adityanath and Ms. Kim.
AAP, CPI oppose renaming
The Aam Aadmi Party hit out at the BJP government for renaming Faizabad district as Ayodhya. AAP leader Sanjay Singh termed it as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's ‘Tughlaqi decision’. He also claimed local people were not consulted before the name change exercise.
Taking a dig at Mr. Adityanath, Mr. Singh said: "The CM should first change his name to Ajay Singh Bisht if he is so fond of changing names."
Communist Party of India general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy said the State government's decision to rename the district as a ploy to cover up its failure in governance.
“This is BJP government’s ploy to cover up its failure in governance. At the same time, the name change also reflects its anti-Muslim feelings. First it changed the name of Allahabad to Prayag Raj and now their move is to change the name of Faizabad because they think these are Muslim names”, said Mr. Reddy.