Ahmednagar has a significant Dhangar population and hence the renaming of the city is considered to be a move to attract this vote base. However, other demands of the community, like reservation, are yet to be met. Will renaming fill in for the demand of reservation, is a question that is now being discussed.
The present dispensation in Maharashtra resolved to rename Aurangabad to Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar and Osmanabad to Dharashiv in the very first cabinet meeting. However, implementation of both the decisions is facing a lot many hurdles and are currently pending in the court of law. The decision to rename Ahmednagar to AhilyaDevi Nagar too is likely to meet a similar fate. However, the question being discussed is whether such a decision is sufficient to catch hold of a vote bank?
Considerable number of Dhangar population
Ahmednagar district has a significant population of Dhangar community. Sangamner, Parner, Rahuri, Nagar rural, Karjat-Jamkhed are the assembly segments where the Dhangar community votes are the deciding factor. Apart from Ahmednagar, Pune, Beed and Solapur are some of the other key districts where the community has significant vote share. In all, at least 12 Lok Sabha constituencies and around 80 assembly constituencies have significant Dhangar population that can influence the results. The community also forms the major part of BJP's “MaDhaVa” - Mali, Dhangar, Vanjari - equation that the party developed since the 1980s as an alternative to the Maratha, Dalit, Muslim vote bank politics of the Congress.
The community had been demanding reservation for a long time. The demand for renaming of the district was a comparatively newer demand. A huge rally of the community was held at Nagpur to push forward the demand about five years back. That time, the demand for renaming Ahmednagar too was raised. When the government under Shinde-Fadnavis came to power last year, the demand for renaming the district suddenly came forward and the government principally accepted it. However, none of the other demands, like that of the demand for renaming Ahmednagar after AhilyaDevi Holkar, generated response.
Slogans shouted for reservation
Interestingly, the crowd at the mega rally at Chaundi - the birthplace of Ahilyadevi - where CM Shinde made the announcement regarding renaming of the district, was also shouting slogans demanding reservation. However, the government as well as the various organisations within the community too seem to have conveniently ignored the community's demand for reservation.
Members of the community too know it and probably due to that the BJP, that had promised to grant reservation to the community upon coming to power in the state in 2014, didn't do much.