In Uttar Pradesh, even municipal wards are now named after Savarkar, Vajpayee and Ashok Singhal

Besides yogis and sages, municipal wards and localities have been named after RSS icons and BJP leaders across the state ranging from Deen Dayal Upadhyay to Kalyan Singh

In Uttar Pradesh, even municipal wards are now named after Savarkar, Vajpayee and Ashok Singhal

K Santosh

After which Muslim rulers were Allahabad and Faizabad named, asks a Lucknow University professor with a mischievous glint in his eyes. In a more serious vein, he goes on to allege that the Yogi Adityanath Government does not only have a problem with Muslim rulers but also with Muslim sounding names. Hence attempts to change the name of Sultanpur, he exclaims and adds, “I am waiting for the government to change the name of Lucknow.”

The Uttar Pradesh Government is not however content with changing the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj and Faizabad to Ayodhya. It has systematically changed the names of even municipal wards and parts of towns and cities after BJP and RSS icons.

In Lucknow itself two of the eight wards have been renamed after Bhagwan Parshuram and Buddheshwar Mahadev. Faizullahganj ward has been renamed Deendayal Upadhyay ward! Another is named after RSS icon M.S. Golwalkar. All 60 wards in Ayodhya have been renamed after VHP leader Ashok Singhal, former chief minister Kalyan Singh, founder of Jan Sangh Syama Prasad Mukherjee, V.D. Savarkar, Shivaji and Atal Bihari Vajpayee among others.

Gorakhpur district itself has long been named after Gorakhnath, who founded the Nath sect to which the chief minister belongs. But here too a ward has been named after Kalyan Singh and Vajpayee. There is a ward named after former Congress leader Veer Bahadur Singh as well but that may have more to do with his son Fateh Bahadur Singh being a BJP MLA. Objections were indeed invited through newspaper ads, concedes Samajwadi party leader Bhola Yadav. Some objections were also submitted. But everybody knows that the objections would be overruled, he adds.

It is difficult to say if the state government is honouring their national leaders and icons by naming wards and Mohallas after them or whether it is insulting or undermining them. When universities, airports, stadia and railway stations are already named after national figures, where is the need to use the same names for wards, he questions.

Litterateur Kumar Amit points out that Gorakhpur is also identified as the ‘janmabhoomi’ or ‘karmabhoomi’ of personalities like Firaq Gorakhpuri, Munshi Premchand, Baba Raghav Das and also drama critic and theatre personality Girish Rastogi. Why ignore them?

Prof Nadeem Hasnain adds, with no trace of irony and just a little trace of sarcasm, that the state government has discovered two Muslims whose contributions it has no problem acknowledging. One is Havildar Abdul Hamid who laid down his life fighting the Pakistani army in the 1965 war, and the other is late President APJ Abdul Kalam. The state government believes that no other Muslim has made any contribution to the state or the nation, he deadpans.

There was a demand to rename Lucknow airport after Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. A patron of arts and literature, he is known for promoting the composite culture that remained the hallmark of Avadh and Lucknow. Even during the Partition, when rioting raged in rest of the country, Avadh remained peaceful. It would have been apt to name the airport after him. But the airport has been named after farmers’ leader Chaudhary Charan Singh.

When politics dictates all decisions, it is clearly futile to search for any method in the madness.

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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