Some of our Parliamentarians are very perturbed with the decision of Yogi government to rename Mughalsarai as Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Nagar. They allege that the character of the nation is being changed and that unknown personages who have had no contribution in nation building are being given undue importance. In acrimonious scenes, some MPs even suggested that the government should change the name of the nation.
Changing names of places has always been a politically fraught issue in the country, especially in recent times when politicians have used the issue to herd their vote banks together. When megapolises such as Bombay, Madras and Calcutta could be renamed with minimal disruptions, what can be the justification for changing names of smaller towns and cities?
One must admit though, had Kolkata been Saiyyadabad or Mumbai, Akbarnagar, it would have been infinitely difficult to proceed with nativisation of their names. For our political class in general holds the period of Muslim subjugation of India to be the golden age of the nation. Like the Arabs who ruled over us, they believe that everything before was Jahiliyat and everything that follows is profane.
Human habitation has for centuries existed on the banks of river Sabarmati in Gujarat. Under the Bhil Kings, the area used to be called Ashval. When the Bhils were defeated by Karna of Chaulukya dynasty, a city was laid out and became known as Karnavati. When the Muslims overran Gujarat in the 14th & 15th centuries, a new capital city was established around Karnavati and named Ahmedabad, either after a Muslim King of the region or after one of the saints in the area. Thus, Karnavati irrevocably became Ahmedabad. 7 centuries later, Karnavati continues to be called as Ahmedabad, perhaps a stark reminder of the loss of Hindus to the Muslim armies. While there are voices demanding reverting Ahmedabad to its original name, nothing has happened, perhaps, for the fear of antagonizing minority votes.
Of all Mughal princes and Shahs, none has been more inimical to the natives of India than Aurangzeb. Yet, his malevolent presence continues to haunt India to this day. Many places in India still bear his accursed name. One of such places is Aurangabad in Maharashtra. Originally called Khadki, the city was founded by the Ethiopian Slave king, Malik Ambar. The city was destroyed by Jahangir who despised Malik Ambar. Subsequently, the town came to be known as Fatehnagar. When Aurangzeb was appointed as the viceroy of Deccan, he had the town renamed as Aurangabad. The period of Aurangzeb’s reign in Deccan is synonymous with war, strife and misery. It took the might of Shivaji Maharaj and his successors to get the Mughals out of Deccan and reclaim the area for India. There have been sporadic demands to get Aurangabad renamed to Sambhaji Nagar, after Shivaji Maharaj’s son who was tortured to death by Aurangzeb but political correctness has meant that nothing has come of the demand.
The Hindu holy town of Prayag has been in existence at least since the Vedic times. The Triveni Sangam at Prayag is still believed by observant Hindus to be the place where all sins can be washed away. Prayag fell before Muslim hordes in as early as 12th century. By Akbar’s time, a fort had been constructed on banks of the Sangam and given the name ‘Ilahabad’, the place of God. Ilahabad or Allahabad has since been used to denote Prayag. While there have been stray voices demanding a return to the original name, nothing has come of it thanks to the Dalit-Muslim politics played by Mayawati and Mulayam. It remains to be seen if Yogi will be able to correct this historical anomaly.
The town of Dharashiv in South Eastern Maharashtra is believed to have been blessed by Lord Ram’s presence during his years in exile. Later, Buddhists, Jains and Hindus built elaborate caves in the area for practising penance and sanyas. As fate would have it, the area fell under Muslim rule and became a part of erstwhile Hyderabad state. At this time, it was named Osmanabad, after the last Nizam of Hyderabad who had with all his might and tact resisted the reunification of Hyderabad with India. It is thanks to Sardar Patel’s decisiveness that Hyderabad, described as an ulcer in the heart of India was surgically dealt with and reunited with India. It is a shame that the town still carries the name of that traitor. There have again been stray voices demanding reversion to the original name but with no success.
Similarly the town of Daulatabad in Maharashtra stands as proof of a crazy endeavour by a half deranged monarch. Muhammad bin Tughlaq shifted his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, resulting in death and destitution for countless civilians. And yet, the town continues to be called as Daulatabad. The town of Sarwat came under Mughal hegemony and was named Muzaffarnagar after one of its commanders. It finds mention in the media for the recent spate of riots between Hindus and Muslims. The Islamic term Ghazi refers to somebody who fights a religious war. In Indian context, such religious wars were always to the detriment of Indian religionists. And yet, the industrial town of Ghaziabad bears this term in its name. Originally called Ghaziuddinnagar after Wazir Ghaziuddin, it was shortened to Ghaziabad in the 19th century. Similar is the case of Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Adilabad, Mahbubabad, Ahmednagar and countless such towns and cities in the country.
And as far as Mughalsarai goes, the dead body of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, a proponent of Integral Humanism and a Jan Sangh ideologue was discovered on Mughalsarai station premises under suspicious circumstances.
It is believed by conspiracy theorists that Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya was murdered at Congress’s behest. Changing the detestable name of Mughalsarai to Deen Dayal Upadhyaya nagar is therefore a fitting tribute to a great son of India