“Finance is gun, politics is knowing when to pull a trigger” – Mario Puzo.
As we all know when the BJP-led government came to power in 2014, ‘ghar wapsi’ dominated the political discourse, with some Hindu fringe groups going about reconverting Muslims to their “original” faith, allegedly even forcibly. The leader of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) Uttar Pradesh, Om Prakash Rajbhar recently asked the BJP to change the names of three of their Muslim leaders before changing the names of different towns and places in the state.
The UP government seems to be on a name-changing spree. But I think this is just a way to distract people whenever they raise their voices for their rights or ask questions to those in power. Is it really that easy to get rid of history? Should we throw away the GT Road? Who built the Red Fort? Who built the Taj Mahal?
The government is changing the names of cities, streets and railway stations, stripping hundreds of years of history to ‘reclaim’ Indian culture and heritage. Interestingly, the phenomenon of changing the names of cities is not new. Major cities were earlier renamed to wipe out signs of the British Raj—Bombay became Mumbai, Madras was changed to Chennai, Calcutta became Kolkata and Bangalore was renamed Bengaluru.
The reason given by BJP leaders for the latest name-change spree is to cleanse what the Mughals had sullied. But I believe that the intent is definitely political as the BJP is trying to pit “Hindu pride”. In UP, the BJP government has dominated as a ruling party and everyone is familiar with their Hindutva phase and anti-Muslim sentiment. I think this entire ‘name-changing’ is indirectly or directly related to the ‘Ram mandir’ issue which is their go-to political tactic.
UP government should work towards making smart cities instead of focusing on creating a ‘Hindu city’. When they realised that they won’t be able to deliver their promise on the metro rails, they started changing the name of railway stations in an attempt to divert the public. Today, the UP government is changing the names, yesterday Mughals and Britishers were changing the names and we never know if this will continue in future as well. The power is in their hands – but they only use it push their political agendas.
Now, Allahabad would be officially renamed Prayagraj before lakhs of devotees descend at the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna for the Kumbh Mela in January. We must realise that all of this drama by the UP government has been done with their focus on political mileage for 2019 Lok Sabha elections. But I have a feeling that these name changes will result in the changing of the government in Uttar Pradesh.