In one of the strongest public pushbacks by the Congress against alliance partner Shiv Sena over renaming Aurangabad, state Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said the Sena’s stand was “hypocritical” and questioned the party over why it had not raised the issue in the last five years when it was part of the government in the state as well as the Centre, in alliance with the BJP.
“Some entities, for their own political benefit, are raking up the Aurangabad renaming issue. It is hypocritical to rake up this issue now… in the last five years, they never spoke about it,” said Thorat said, while slamming the Sena and the BJP for raising the issue.
On Saturday, state Industries Minister Subhash Desai and Sena leader said the state government will soon approve a proposal to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar. On Sunday, Sanjay Raut, Sena MP and chief spokesperson of the party, criticised the Congress in Saamana stating that it was against the renaming as it was afraid of losing the Muslim vote.
“If it is renamed, Muslims will be upset and that will have an impact on their vote bank. It means a question mark will be raised on their own secular image,” Raut said. He also reiterated the Sena’s stand that there should not be any city in Maharashtra bearing Aurangzeb’s name.
Soon after the article came out, the Congress on Sunday issued a public statement voicing its opposition to the renaming. Thorat also criticised the Sena for the way it had governed the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation, which it presently controls.
“Both these parties (Sena and BJP), which have been at the helm of the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation, should be speaking about the development of the issue. That is what residents of the city expect from them. However, the two have disappointed the people and this is the reason why they now have to rely on the renaming issue on the eve of elections,” Thorat said.
Despite the differences, however, Throat stated that there was no threat to the MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) government. “No one should be under the illusion that this will destabilise the government. Our government is stable and strong,” he said, adding that the “politics of emotion” had no place in the MVA common minimum programme (CMP).
Since December, Sena and Congress are sparring over renaming Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, through his Twitter handle, has also referred to Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar while putting out a tweet on a cabinet decision. This did not go down well with the Congress. Thackeray, however, defended it by saying Aurangzeb was not a secular person.
In 1988, after the Sena came to power in the local body at Aurangabad city, late supremo Balasaheb Thackeray announced that the city would be renamed as Sambhajinagar. Since then, the Sena has used Sambhajinagar in political rhetoric and party mouthpiece Saamana.