Adityanath’s Renaming Spree — What’s in a Name?

Since the Bharatiya Janata Party took over administration in various states, it seems to have gone overboard with its spree of renaming stations, cities and schemes, becoming a name-changer rather than a game-changer. The recent renaming of Allahabad to ‘Prayagraj’ is just another testament to this. Schemes at the central as well as state level have also been renamed, having either the prefix ‘Mukhya Mantri’ or ‘Deen Dayal Upadhyay’ added to them– something that is neither useful, nor creative.

This spree is predominant in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where Yogi Adityanath has been rolling out new names ever since he became Chief Minister. For instance, the Panki Railway Station in Kanpur was renamed as the ‘Panki Dham’ Railway Station –‘dham’ indicates a sacred place for Hindus– while the Mughalsarai station near Varanasi was renamed as the Deen Dayal Upadhyay station. The Chief Minister also ordered officials to remove ‘Samajwadi’ from various services provided by the state, replacing it with ‘Mukhya Mantri’.

This is almost typical of Yogi Adityanath, as he has renamed several cities earlier as well. During his tenure as an MP of Gorakhpur, he replaced ‘Urdu Bazar’ with ‘Hindi Bazar’, ‘Ali Nagar’ with Arya Nagar, ‘Miya Bazar’ with Maya Bazar, ‘Islampur’ with ‘ Ishwarpur’, ‘Lahaladpur’ with ‘Alahaladpur’ and ‘Humayun Nagar’ with Hanuman Nagar.

This is a bigger issue than it seems, as it is not an act limited to the members of BJP; many other ministers like Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav have resorted to these games in states like Uttar Pradesh when in power.

This continuous renaming is has become akin to a childish tiff between parties, and it is almost traumatic to see them fighting over names and changing them during their tenure as a part of their power struggles. This also speaks volumes about the kind of seriousness that these parties have during discussions about broader areas.

Politicians construct and deconstruct history according to their convenience, and share seemingly random statistics and reports: Yogi Adiyanath recently mentioning that he would rename ‘Taj Mahal’ to ‘Ram Mahal’ is one such example. This casts light upon on how trivial the things spoken by politicians are, and how they are perceived as ‘burning issues.’

The name change of Allahabad to ‘Prayagraj’ has received more flak, since it has communal feelings attached to it. As most of the new names have been ardently Hindu in nature and the older names have been mostly been Muslim, renaming them has become another case of Hinduism over Islam. This is extremely saddening as we belong to a secular country and having a discourse like this, questions its very essence. While there are different factions with different beliefs, it’s better if politicians avoid actions which are abjectly communal or religious in nature. The bigger issue that remains is that of how quickly the government made such decisions. While rape victims and victims of religious clashes are nowhere close to receiving justice, it is surprising how these decisions are taken so swiftly. The government is not able to put an end to social evils, but is efficient when actions having the potential to incite them have to been taken. This depicts how the system in India works and why it is so faulty– issues where one’s safety and security are under threat are not addressed, but renaming of a place to prove a point on communal lines receives the highest priority. It’s imperative that people look beyond the walls of TV headlines and actually understand the agenda being run by the parties and the government.

What’s in a name? Nothing. But the intent which has driven the recent rampage of name changing has made it everything.

Picture Credits : indianexpress

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