Friction between the coalition partners in the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance in Maharashtra is palpable as Congress and Shiv Sena are sparring over renaming Aurangabad as ‘Sambhaji Nagar’.
A day after Congress state president and Maharashtra cabinet minister Balasaheb Thorat opposed the rebranding of Aurangabad as Sambhaji Nagar, Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana today published an editorial in which it made an emphatic case for renaming the city.
Dismissing that the change of name would have any repercussions on the fate of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, the article pointed out how the founder of Shiv Sena Balasaheb Thackeray had already named it Sambhaji Nagar 30 years ago and people had wholeheartedly accepted it. It added that only formalities in the form of documentation were left to implement the official change of name.
The article said just like Ram Temple is being built with consensus, similarly, Aurangabad’s name will also be changed through consensus. The editorial went on to claim that the Muslims in India despise Babur and Aurangzeb and they would have no disagreement with naming Aurangabad as Sambhaji Nagar. In a sly dig at the Congress party, the article said that the renaming of Aurangabad would not have any impact on the secularism of the country and a majority of Congressmen in the state would agree with Shiv Sena’s demand of renaming of the city.
Babur is not the father of Muslims and Aurangzeb is not their uncle: Saamana
“Babur is not the father of the Muslims in India, just as the sinful Aurangzeb is not the uncle of the Muslims here. Babur was buried in Ayodhya and the Ram temple is standing there. Neither Islam was endangered there, nor anyone’s secularism was eroded. If anyone thinks that Aurangzeb’s graveyard is a symbol of secularism, then he is making a mockery of India’s identity,” the article read.
The editorial further added that the Mughal despot Aurangzeb’s death is celebrated across the country. Aurangzeb inflicted, the article said, unspeakable atrocities on Chhatrapati Sambhaji to pressurise him to convert into Islam. However, he didn’t buckle under pressure. The article asserted that it is a grave insult to Shivaji Maharaj that a city named after Aurangzeb should exist on the land of Maharashtra.
“The Muslims of this country have forgotten Babur and the Muslims of Maharashtra have forgotten Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb and Aurangabad are no longer the subject of votes. The Muslims in Maharashtra have supported the Shiv Sena by adopting the path of nationalism,” the article stated.
Shiv Sena questions BJP for not renaming Aurangabad as Sambhaji Nagar
The divergence within the MVA alliance over the renaming of Aurangabad had elicited a sharp reaction from the BJP, with the BJP state president Chandrakant Patil stating that the difference of opinion over the issue only underscored the sheer lack of cohesion among the MVA alliance partners. The party had asked Shiv Sena to clarify its stand on the issue in the light of opposition by the Congress party.
In response to the BJP’s criticism over the divergent views within the MVA government with respect to renaming of Aurangabad, the Shiv Sena, in its Saamana editorial, passed the buck to BJP, alleging that they could have easily changed the name of Aurangabad to Sambhaji Nagar while they were in power in the state, just like they changed the names of Allahabad and Aurangzeb Road in Delhi.
Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat opposes renaming of Aurangabad
Earlier on Thursday, Maharashtra state Congress President Balasaheb Thorat had said if any proposal to rename Aurangabad comes up, his party would strongly oppose it. He said changing the names of places was not a part of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, in which Congress and NCP are partners.
“If any proposal about renaming Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar comes up, the Congress will oppose it strongly.Our party does not believe in changing names as it does not lead to development of common man,” Thorat told reporters.