Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) chief Prakash Ambedkar on Monday said Pune should be renamed to Sambhajinagar after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's son and the second ruler of the Maratha kingdom Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, and not Aurangabad.
Ambedkar also cited the historical significance of remaining Pune after Sambhaji Maharaj, given that his samadhi is in Vadhu Budruk village in Pune district.
"Aurangabad is a historical city. Aurangabad was the second capital during the Mughal period. Meanwhile, Sambhaji Maharaj was cremated in Pune district. His samadhi is in Vadhu Budruk village in Pune district. Therefore, if you think that Sambhaji Maharaj should be remembered, then the right place is Pune. Therefore, it would be more appropriate to name Pune after Sambhaji Maharaj," Prakash Ambedkar told a Marathi news channel.
His comment comes after a war of words between the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) over renaming Auranagabad to Sambhajinagar.
Congress, a partner in MVA, has opposed any proposal to rename Aurangabad. "If any proposal about renaming Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar comes up, the Congress will oppose it strongly. Our party does not believe in changing names as it does not lead to development of common man," said Maharashtra Congress chief and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat.
However, Shiv Sena in its party mouthpiece 'Saamana' said the Congress' opposition to the proposal is not new and therefore, linking it to a rift in MVA government is foolishness. "The Congress has opposed the proposal of renaming Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar. It has made the BJP happy. But the Congress's opposition to the proposal is not new and therefore, linking it to the MVA government is foolishness. Even if the name has not been changed in the government records, Shiv Sena supremo late Balasaheb Thackeray had renamed Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar when there was Congress' chief minister in the state. The people had also accepted it," it said.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil on Monday said renaming of Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar was "acceptable to all" and his party would pass a resolution on this if it came to power in the civic body there. He also chided the Shiv Sena, which has been in favour of the name change for several years, but was now in alliance with the Congress, which has consistently opposed it.
"The name Sambhajinagar is acceptable to all. Then why don't we change the name? I can assure you, if we come to power in Aurangabad (municipal corporation), we will pass a resolution in favour of the name change," Patil told reporters. "The Congress has opposed it, but the Sena needs the Congress to run its government. Shiv Sena must decide if it can stake power on this issue," he added.
For the uninitiated, the Shiv Sena had first made the demand to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar over two decades ago. A proposal to that effect had been passed in the general body meeting of the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) in June 1995, which was challenged by a Congress corporator in the high court and later in the Supreme Court.
(With PTI inputs)