In 2018, the Yogi government had announced the name change in view of the Ardh Kumbh Mela. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government over changing the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj. The notice was issued while the top court was hearing a public interest litigation that challenged the name change. In 2018, the Yogi government had announced the name change in view of the Ardh Kumbh Mela. Allahabad was named in 1575 by Mughal Emperor Akbar, who called it Illahabas meaning the abode of God. Before Allahabad, the region was known as Prayag. Apart from Allahabad, the name changing spree also included other towns. While Allahabad became Prayagraj, Farah Town station near Mathura and Mughalsarai junction were earlier renamed after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya.
On January 1st last year, the Modi government had okayed to Yogi government’s proposal. For changing the name of a village or town or a city, an executive order is needed. The renaming of a state requires amendment of the Constitution with a simple majority in Parliament.
Allahabad is not the only major district that was renamed by Yogi Adityanath government. In November 2018, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister had announced Faizabad district will be renamed Ayodhya. Adityanath had also announced that a new airport, named after Ram, and a new medical college named after Raja Dashrath (Lord Ram's father) would be set up in Ayodhya.
Making the announcement during the grand Diwali event, Yogi Adityanath had said that, "Ayodhya is a symbol of our 'aan, baan aur shaan' (honour, pride and prestige). We will assure you that nobody can do injustice to Ayodhya, no force in the world can do that."
The renaming of major towns is seen as a bid to reinforce BJP ideology in public’s mental space. For example, in a bid to revive the legacy of RSS ideologue, Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government renamed the fourth busiest railway station in India. For 134 years, the town and the station has been called Mughalsarai.But there was strong RSS connection. RSS ideologue Deen Dayala Upadhyay had died under mysterious circumstances while travelling in a train at Mughalsarai station on February 11, 1968.
However, it was Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party that made maximum name changes in Uttar Pradesh. During Mayawati’s term, Noida became Gautam Buddha Nagar, Sambhal became Bhim Nagar, Kasganj was renamed Kanshiram Nagar and so on.