Row over renaming Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar

Maha Vikas Aghadi partner Congress opposes the move.

Updated - January 02, 2021 09:58 pm IST

Published - January 02, 2021 04:55 pm IST - Mumbai

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut expressed confidence that the issue to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar would be resolved when all the Maha Vikas Aghadi allies- Sena, NCP and Congress- sit together and talk. File.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut expressed confidence that the issue to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar would be resolved when all the Maha Vikas Aghadi allies- Sena, NCP and Congress- sit together and talk. File.

As Maharashtra stares at the upcoming civic polls, a row over renaming Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar has erupted with the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance partner Congress opposing the move, saying that instead of emotional issues, the elections should discuss matters concerned with people’s livelihood and development. 

The stand taken by the Congress has pleased the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with its leaders calling out Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to fulfil the Sena’s demand to rename the city. BJP national general secretary and Maharashtra in-charge C.T. Ravi tweeted on Saturday: “Shiv Sena says its leader, Late Balasaheb Thackeray renamed Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar 25 years ago. Its partner in the “Maharashtra Vinashak Aghadi”, CONgress is opposing renaming of Aurangabad. Will CM @OfficeofUT compromise on his father’s legacy again to remain in power?” 

Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil said that he had been raising the issue for 10 months. “If Aurangzeb road can by changed to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Illahabad to Prayagraj and Faijabad to Ayodhya then why can’t Aurangabad be changed to Sambhajinagar?” he asked. 

The Shiv Sena has been raising the demand to change Aurangabad’s name to Sambhajinagar. Chhatrapati Sambhaji was a son of Chhatrapati Shivaji, who was killed in the custody of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. In June 1995, the Auranagabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), which has been under the Shiv Sena for over three decades now, had passed a resolution recommending to the State government a change in name of the city. While successive governments failed to bring about a conclusive end to the issue, interestingly, the Devendra Fadnavis-led State government, too, did not change the name. 

State Congress president and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said that the party’s Opposition to renaming was based on principle. “Renaming a city does not bring development or progress,” he said, adding that the common minimum programme of the MVA government did not include the renaming. 

“The Maharashtra government has sent a proposal of naming Aurangabad airport after Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj and BJP-led Central government has made no progress on that front. Does BJP have any right to question us?” asked State Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant. 

The Shiv Sena too said that the Congress’ Opposition to renaming goes beyond the formation of the State government and hence would not affect the stability of the government. “The Congress has opposed the proposal of renaming Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar. It has made the BJP happy. But the Congress’s opposition to the proposal is not new and therefore, linking it to the MVA government is foolishness,” said an editorial in the Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna . “Balasaheb Thackeray renamed Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar 30 years ago, which was accepted by the people. And it will soon be changed officially as well,” it said.

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