New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh cabinet has cleared a proposal to rename Allahabad “Prayagraj” ahead of the 2019 Kumbh Mela. “Allahabad to be called Prayagraj from today,” Siddharth Nath Singh, the state health minister, told news agency ANI. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath announced this proposal during a visit to Allahabad on Saturday.
In RSS circles, Allahabad has largely been referred to as Prayag, much as Varanasi is referred to as Kashi.
Predictably, the proposal met a strong backlash. In a Twitter post on Monday, former chief minister and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav tweeted that the current government only wanted to show their work through “renaming”. “… They have even re-named Ardh Kumbh to Kumbh. This is toying with tradition and belief” he said.
The Congress has also opposed the move. According to an Indian Express report, claiming that the name change would affect the history in which Allahabad has played a significant role since the days of Independence, Congress spokesperson Onkar Singh said that the region where Kumbh takes place is already called Prayagraj and if the government is so eager, [it should] make it a separate city, leaving Allahbad intact.
Nevertheless, the Yogi government is finding justification. Reacting to Yadav, energy minister and government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma claimed that the beliefs of people were hurt when the city was named Allahabad: “Some persons are objecting to renaming Allahabad as Prayagraj. The objections are baseless. It is the right of the government to rename any city. If needed, we will rename more cities and roads. The mistakes done earlier will be rectified”.
In October last year, the Yogi government renamed Mughalsarai railway station to Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) station, an attempt to highlight the legacy of the Jan Sangh leader by the BJP-led government. More recently, Hazratganj Chauraha in Lucknow was renamed “Atal Chowk” to commemorate former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
(With PTI inputs)