The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to rename the Faizabad railway station as Ayodhya Cantonment railway station, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s office tweeted Saturday, in a decision likely to ruffle opposition parties’ feathers ahead of next year’s Assembly election.
The decision follows the 2018 renaming of Faizabad to Ayodhya and calling Allahabad as Prayagraj.
Back then a defiant Yogi Adityanath had dismissed criticism of the renaming spree, saying “we did what we felt was good” and that “where there is a need (his) government will take required steps”.
UP CM Yogi Adityanath has taken the decision to rename Faizabad railway junction as Ayodhya Cantt.: Chief Minister’s office pic.twitter.com/94f2yckY0W
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) October 23, 2021
The decision to rename Faizabad and Allahabad, and renaming the town of Mughalsarai as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Nagar, also came months before an election – the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
On Allahabad being called Prayagraj, Yogi Adityanath declared that it was what the people “wished”.
A month later Yogi Adityanath lashed out, asking why those protesting against the name change were not called ‘Raavan’ or ‘Duryodhan’ – antagonists from Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The Allahabad – Prayagraj decision triggered howls of protest from the Congress, which pointed out the former name also had deep connections to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister.
The decision also did not go down well with some of the BJP’s allies; SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar said it was diverting attention from the needs of oppressed sections of the society.
He also asked the party to first change the names of its own Muslim leaders.
Allahabad (now Prayagraj) is a historic city with strong links to the freedom struggle, and is also a holy spot because of the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna with that of the mythical Saraswati.
The city’s original name was Prayag; it was named ‘Illahabad; or ‘abode of God’ by Akbar in 1575.
Significantly, in September last year the Allahabad High Court junked a plea asking it to rename itself as Prayagraj High Court or Uttar Pradesh High Court, terming it as a “publicity stunt litigation”.
Yogi Adityanath’s penchant for renaming certain cities and towns has extended to beyond his state’s borders; in November last year, while campaigning in Hyderabad for municipal polls, he declared the state capital could also be renamed, and cited Prayagraj as an example.