Two days after Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat said his party would strongly oppose any proposal that seeks to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar, the Shiv Sena on Saturday said its resistance will not affect the three-party MVA government in the state.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut expressed confidence that the issue would be resolved when all the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies- Sena, NCP and Congress- sit together and talk.
On Thursday, Mr Thorat had asserted that the Congress would oppose any proposal to rename Aurangabad, saying that changing the names of places was not part of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the three ruling parties.
It was the Shiv Sena, which had first made the demand to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar over two decades ago.
A proposal to that effect had been passed in the general body meeting of the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) in June 1995, which was challenged by a Congress corporator in the high court and later in the Supreme Court.
In its party mouthpiece ”Saamana”, the Sena said, “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.”
“Even if the name has not been changed in the government records, Shiv Sena chief late Balasaheb Thackeray had renamed Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar when there was Congress’s chief minister in the state. The people had also accepted it,” it said.
“But some people feel that the issue of renaming Aurangabad will create friction within the ruling alliance,” the Sena said in a veiled attack on the BJP.
“Thorat announced that if any proposal for renaming Aurangabad comes up before the MVA government, his party would oppose it. It is his claim. After his statement, BJP leaders started demanding that the Sena should make its stand clear on the issue. But the Sena has not changed its stance on it.”
“Balasaheb Thackeray had renamed Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar 30 years ago, which was accepted by the people. And it will soon be changed officially as well,” it said.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party said BJP leader Chandrakant Patil asked that if Allahabad’s name can be changed to Prayagraj, Faizabad’s to Ayodhya, why can’t
Aurangabad’s name be changed to Sambhajinagar.
“But we want to ask why the party did not do so when it was in power in Maharashtra,” the Sena added.
“Any state requires a foundation of self-respect and even the Congress will agree that Aurangzeb was not a secular person. The Muslims in Maharashtra have stood behind the Shiv Sena. They want development and welfare,” it said.
“It is an insult to the memory of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj that a city in Maharashtra should bear Aurangzeb’s name, who brutally killed Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj,” it said.
“But what Thorat is saying is right. The Maharashtra government is duty-bound to implement the CMP of giving justice to the downtrodden and the farmers,” it added.
Congress’s opposition to the renaming proposal will not affect the MVA alliance, it said.
Meanwhile, Mr Raut said, “Thirty years ago, Balasaheb Thackeray gave the name Sambhajinagar. Only paper work is left now. When all the MVA allies sit together and talk, the issue would get resolved.”
The renaming of Aurangabad was not a political issue, he said.
Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam said the MVA government has been formed to work and not change the names of cities.
“The CMP doesn’t mention changing name of Aurangabad,” he said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)