NEW DELHI: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's move to have Allahabad renamed Prayagraj is not the first time the BJP leader has tried to saffronise Uttar Pradesh and drop Islamic sounding names.
Adityanath justified his decision to rename Allahabad saying that the city's original name was Prayagraj and it was named Allahabad by Akbar during Mughal rule.
Barely two months ago, the Adityanath government had sent a proposal to Indian Railways seeking to rename Mughalsarai station after RSS thinker Deendayal Upadhyay. "Today is a very big day for the Bharatiya Janata Party as Mughalsarai station, where Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay was killed, has today been named after him. I am happy that under Prime Minister Modi's leadership a memorial is being made for Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay," party president Amit Shah had said when the change came into effect.
Adityanath's penchant for replacing Islamic names with Hindu ones dates back to the time when he represented Gorakhpur in the Lok Sabha. In 1998, he went on a renaming spree in his constituency, where he changed the names of localities. While Urdu Bazar became Hindi Bazar, Ali Nagar became Arya Nagar. Similarly, the former head of the Gorakhnath Temple had Islampur renamed Ishwarpur, Lahaladpur became Alahaladpur and Humayun Nagar is now Hanuman Nagar.
Just before he was named chief minister of UP in 2017, he claimed in an interview that a lot of places remained to be renamed. "Abhi toh aur naam badalne hai," he said.
Apart from the UP CM, the right-wing organization he founded, the Hindu Yuva Vahini, has demanded the renaming of Azamgarh in Western UP to Aryamgarh.
In August 2015, BJP MP Maheish Girri had proposed that Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi be renamed Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road. "Although Aurangzeb was a great emperor, he is known for his dictatorial rule and the suppression of his subjects. Why should we honour such a person," the MP had said, defending his proposal.
Political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay said the renaming was being done only to divert people's attention from core issues. "They (the BJP) could not provide jobs or fulfil their promises. So now they want to create a sense of victory in people against an unknown enemy. As in 1993, an article in the RSS mouthpiece Organiser said they would want to even rename the country to Hindu Desh," he said.