The Maharashtra Cabinet, which met on the eve of floor test directed by the Governor amid the present political crisis, on Wednesday approved the renaming of Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar and Osmanabad as Dharashiv while the Navi Mumbai International Airport is to be named after the veteran Peasants & Workers Party leader DB Patil.
The meeting was chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray at the Mantralaya while Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Food and Civil Supply Minister Chhagan Bhujbal attended virtually as both are tested COVID-19 positive and are under medical observation. These decisions are to checkmate BJP which has stepped in the political crisis and after its demand the Governor BS Koshyari has asked Thackeray to prove his majority in the state assembly on Thursday.
Interestingly, Shiv Sena allies NCP and Congress gave their consent for renaming. Congress minister Balasaheb Thorat had suggested Pune to be renamed as Jijaunagar. It also pressed for naming the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link after former chief minister AR Antulay. However, the cabinet did not take any decision. Two Congress ministers Varsha Gaikwad and Aslam Shaikh walked out the cabinet meeting before it was over. However, they did not make a comment on their move.
The renaming of Aurangabad and Osmanabad has been pending for a long time. Shiv Sena was at the forefront pressing for renaming and later BJP came in open in its support. However, NCP and Congress were opposed to renaming of both.
The Aurangabad was built in the 15th century by Malik Ambar of the Nijamshahi dynasty. When Aurangzeb, the son of Shah Jahan took over the Mughal Empire, he made the city his capital and renamed it after his name. He tortured and later killed Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, son of Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in Aurangabad where he lived until his death.
Shiv Sena after coming to power at the Aurangabad’s civic body and during the victory rally on May 8, 1998, party supremo Bal Thackeray renamed the city as Sambhaji Nagar as this was the place where the Maratha warrior was kept captive and tortured till death,.
Since then, Aurangabad is referred to as Sambhaji Nagar in all political rhetoric and in the party’s mouthpiece Saamana. The Aurangabad Municipal Corporation passed the resolution to officially rename the city. The Shiv Sena was actively pursuing renaming in a bid to assert its Hindutva agenda appeasing the majority Hindu population while the Congress party was against to upset its Muslim vote bank.
As far as renaming Osmanabad as Dharashiv is concerned, Shiv Sena was quite aggressive for over 25 years but Congress was opposing it strongly. Osmanabad is named after the last ruler of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan, while Dharashiv is derived from the name for the sixth-century caves near the city.
Navi Mumbai International Airport
Various organisations representing locals and BJP have been pressing for naming the Navi Mumbai International Airport after DB Patil while opposing the Maha Vikas Aghadi government’s announcement to name it after Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. These organisations and BJP held a series of protests. On Tuesday, a delegation of Shiv Sena leaders and representatives from organisations representing locals met the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray who accepted their demand and thereafter the cabinet today approved naming the Navi Mumbai International Airport after DB Patil.