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Mumbai: Facing threat to his government following a rebellion in his party, chief minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday presided over a Cabinet meeting where a demand was made to rename Aurangabad city as Sambhajinagar.
The cabinet meeting took place in the state secretariat in south Mumbai a day after Thackeray took away the portfolios of rebel Shiv Sena ministers who are camping in Guwahati. The CM, who has moved to his family residence Matoshree in suburban Mumbai, participated in the proceedings virtually.
A cabinet minister insisted no political discussion took place at the meet.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, transport minister Anil Parab of the Shiv Sena said he demanded that Aurangabad city in central Maharashtra be renamed as Sambhajinagar.
A proposal will be brought during Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, Parab, a close aide of Thackeray, said.
The move comes amid pressure on the Shiv Sena which has been accused of compromising with its core ideology of Hindutva. The opposition BJP has been trying to corner the Shiv Sena, which heads the three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, over renaming the central Maharashtra city after Maratha king Chhatrapati Sambhaji.
Considered a polarising figure in Indian history, Mughal emperor Aurangzeb founded the city of Aurangabad in the Marathwada region of the present-day Maharashtra. He had also ordered the execution of Chhatrapati Sambhaji, a personality revered by the Shiv Sena.
Fisheries minister Aslam Shaikh, who belongs to the Congress, said exhaustive discussion took place on the rising COVID-19 cases in certain districts and steps taken to contain them. The rainfall deficit in the state was also discussed, he said.
There was no political discussion in the cabinet meeting which focussed only on the listed agenda, he said.
Home minister Dilip Walse Patil, a senior NCP leader, echoed Shaikh, saying no political issues came up for discussion.
He said another cabinet meeting is likely to take place on Wednesday to take up the pending issues.
On Monday, Thackeray, who also heads the Shiv Sena, had divested portfolios of rebel ministers, including Eknath Shinde, who has raised the banner of revolt against the Sena leadership, and allocated their departments to other ministers.
The rebellion by Shinde, who has claimed the support of nearly 40 dissident Sena MLAs, has threatened the very existence of the two-and-a-half-year-old MVA government, which also consists of the NCP and the Congress.