Before stepping out of the government, then the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had officially changed the name of Aurgangabad to Sambhaji Nagar in honour of Maratha King Chhatrapati Sambhaji Shivaji Maharaj who was tortured to death in the cruellest way by Mughal Muslim ruler Aurangzeb, the son of Shah Jahan and the brother of Dara Shikov. Several centuries ago, the city had been named Aurangabad after Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, whose mortal remains are buried in the city. Aurangabad was renamed (before that city was called Fatehpur & before that Kharki) and developed into a key city of the Mughal Empire by Aurangzeb.
On other hand, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray had started referring the city as Sambhajinagar since 1988 – and all-party men followed suit. The Sena-BJP alliance has been ruling the AMC since 1988. A resolution to rename this historic city Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar was approved twice by the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) in 1995 & 2011.But this had to be sanctioned by the state and central governments before it was implemented. And that was not happening either when NDA or UPA was in power. Appeasement was one of the great concerns and moreover name changing of the city and places was not much in fashion as it is now.
That’s why the city still is known as Aurangabad. This is because when Shivsena was looking for their political expansion outside Mumbai in the 1980s, they found Aurangabad as the most fertile ground for their political agenda. So during the public rally in 1988, late Balasaheb Thackeray ji first time pronounced the name of the city as ‘Sambhaji Nagar’ and from that time onward it became Shiv Sena’s agenda to rename the city. Obviously, INC, NCP and MIM were opposing it since it doesn’t suit their ideology. And in all these years, Shiv Sena or BJP never bothered to change the name of the city by showing political will.
Since municipal elections are ahead, BJP wants to show that Shiv Sena has given up on Hindutva. INC, NCP want to show how secular they are and BJP want to grab the AMC with majority. Nobody is talking about development which the city badly needs. In all this political dominance they have lost sight for public welfare and name changing has become their priority. These days everything is ransacked including the democracy in the name of pseudo Hindutva.
The Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra gave a cabinet approval to rename Aurangabad and Osmanabad cities as Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar and Dharashiv respectively. The cabinet also approved the decision to name the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport as ‘Loknete DB Patil Navi Mumbai Airport.’ The decision to rename these cities was taken in the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government’s last cabinet meeting chaired by the then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on June 29, just before he resigned.
However, Shinde said that their move was meant to prevent any legal challenges to the decision as the Thackeray regime was in a minority when the decision was taken. The decision was taken when the government was in a minority. Whether changing the name really matters or not depends on the society, geography and most importantly on the history of a particular region.
In the case of Aurangabad, I feel that giving the name of Sambhaji Maharaj to Aurangabad is kind of insulting this great Maratha king. Aurangzeb was greatest enemy and brutal murderer of Sambhaji Maharaj. In his childhood, Sambhaji Maharaj had to work as Mansabdar at Aurangabad, where Aurangzeb planned to kill him but couldn’t execute as Shivaji Maharaj timely got the information about this sinister plan and thus could rescue him. This certainly shows that Shambhaji Maharaj did not have good memories about Aurangabad. I strongly feel that if Sambhaji Maharaj was alive today, he would have felt very angry and outraged if somebody had proposed his name to this city. Just imagine that if you have some bad memories about a certain place which you have left long back and suddenly someone forces you to associate your name with that place; how would one feel?
Culture of naming the cities comes from the Sultanate/Mughal culture.(Rajputs, who under influence of Mughals, named their cities by their kings) In that era, kings were always presented as larger than life figures. The boot lickers of the Mughal king, to make him happy or if the king considered himself as someone great, cities were named after them. By calling Aurangabad as Sambhaji Nagar, then Sivsena and now BJP is behaving like Mughals because it’s more of an ego battle.
Aurangabad is capital of Marathwada region and major tourist and industrial destination. If name change is required, the new name must reflect the culture, history and contribution of Marathwada to Maharashtra. Marathwada has a history of more than 2000 years old. It’s not just a political history, its history of Marathi language and culture. Two great Marathi empires, Satavahans and Yadavas had their capital in current Aurangabad district (Paithan town and Devagiri fort). Satavahans were the 1st kings who used Marathi as their court language. 1st Marathi emperor Shalivahan Gautamiputra Satkarni ruled from the current Paithan town. The Second Maratha Empire was Yadavas of Devagiri. In the Yadava era, Marathi language and culture was at its zenith.
Volumes of Marathi literature were written in this period. Maharashtra saw the 1st social reformist movement in this era when saints from all the castes brought people from all castes together under the Varkari sect. The foundation laid in this era helped Maharashtra to fight against Islamic invaders for next 700 years. The majestic Devgiri fort lies just on the outskirts of Aurangabad still standing tall and with all its glory. Now the main question, will it really matter to the government?
By engaging the city in Aurangabad versus Sambhaji Nagar politics, politicians are purposefully putting hurdles in the development of the city. If this issue is kept burning automatically investment will decrease followed by unemployment. This will obviously create social unrest which could be beneficial for the political motives ahead.
If it doesn’t become Sambhaji Nagar, will the fate of common man change?
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