The Union government has cleared the proposal of changing names of cities Aurangabad to Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar and Osmanabad to Dharashiv. Significantly, the decision to rename the two districts was taken by the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government on the last day in office in June 2022. Since chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis did not want the credit to go to the MVA, they cancelled the earlier decision and had a fresh resolution passed in the cabinet and the same was sent to the Centre in October 2022 for its clearance. The renaming has been challenged through a PIL in Bombay High Court and early this month, the court had asked the Maharashtra government whether it had invited suggestions and objections before taking a decision in this regard.
In a letter written to the Deputy Secretary of Maharashtra government's general administration the Union government has said that it has no objection to the decision of Maharashtra government. The Maharashtra government has sent the proposal to the union government regarding the changes in names. Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar is the regional capital of Marathwada and Dharashiv is a city in the southern side of the same region.
Aurangabad was named after Mughal King Aurangjeb who had died in the city in 1707. Osmanabad was named after the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad state, Mir Osman Ali Khan. Marathwada was under the erstwhile Hyderabad state, ruled by the Nizam. The demand to change the names of both cities came first in the late 1990's. Both the names were derived from Muslim rulers. When Shiv Sena under Bal Thackeray entered into Marathwada politics after 1985, it started the campaign against both names. But the names were never changed in all these years.
The first official proposal to change the name came before the last cabinet of Uddhav Thjackeray government on June 29th 2022. Uddhav, while trying to shed the BJP allegations that he joined hands with Congress NCP for the power and disrespected the Hindutva ideological politics, tried to set the narrative from his side with this proposal. Congress and NCP too have supported the decision and the last MVA cabinet passed it unanimously.
But the new government led by Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis cancelled the decision. They had given the reason that the government, who had lost confidence, couldn't take the decision. So, again the proposal was prepared by the current government and passed. This government made a slight change in renaming Aurangabad. Earlier Uddhav Thackeray had just changed it to Sambhajinagar but the Shinde government added Chhatrapati to it.
Changing names of these cities is a sensitive topic in Marathwada region. Ahead of municipalities elections, which includes Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar municipality too, the decision could prove helpful for the Shinde lead Shivsena and BJP.
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