Amid a row over the name change of Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar, the SP MLA Abu Azmi wrote to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar urging them to stop politics around changing the name of Aurangabad.
"These days, politics is being played by changing the name of Aurangabad. If changing the name (of a city) helps in its development, then names must be changed. but in that case, Raigad should be named Sambhajinagar and Maharashtra be named after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who was an idol of the harmony between Hindus and Muslims," Azmi said in a letter written on January 5."Or, else, Maharashtra should be named Swarajya. If you are unable to do this, then stop these politics around changing the name of Aurangabad," he further wrote.
A controversy has broken out over the state government's plans to change the name of Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar.
Earlier, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut made it clear that the Maharashtra government was clear on renaming the city after Sambhaji, the warrior son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
The Shiv Sena, which heads the three-party MVA government in the state, has been demanding since the last few decades that Aurangabad be renamed as Sambhajinagar. However, the party is now in alliance with the Congress, which has consistently opposed the proposal.
Taking to Twitter after that, Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat reiterated his party's opposition to any attempts to change the name of the place.
"The Directorate of Information and Publicity should not rename cities on its own. It should remember that official work is a legal document. Renaming cities is not on the agenda of the common minimum Programme (CMP) of the MVA government," Thorat said.
The MVA government is committed to what is promised in the CMP, he said.
"We want to reassert that we are opposed to renaming any city to ensure that social harmony prevails," Thorat, who is also the state Revenue Minister, said.
"Chhatrapati Shambhaji Maharaj is our revered diety.
Avoid playing the renaming politics in his name. Let's work together for Aurangabad's development," he said.
The civic polls in Aurangabad are scheduled later this year.
The Sena had first made the demand to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar over two decades ago, and a proposal was passed in 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.
Last week, Thorat had said that his party would oppose any proposal that seeks to change the name of Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar.