The issue of renaming Aurangabad must not be used for spreading hatred and dividing society, Maharashtra minister and state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat said on Saturday.
The Shiv Sena, the Congress' ally in the state government, had in the past demanded that Aurangabad in central Maharashtra be renamed as Sambhajinagar, after the elder son of warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji.
"Congress reveres Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj and there should be no doubt about this," Thorat told reporters.
"But the issue of renaming a city shouldn't be used for spreading hatred and divisions in society. Our focus is development works," he said.
During a recent visit to Aurangabad, Thorat had said his party would oppose any move to rename it.
Aurangabad, once the headquarters of the Dakkhan (Deccan) province in the Mughal empire, derives its name from emperor Aurangzeb.
Another state Congress leader and state minister Ashok Chavan said renaming a city was not the coalition government's priority.
"This is a three-party government and every party has its separate views. Therefore we have come together on the basis of a common minimum programme. The renaming issue is not a priority," Chavan said.
Earlier in the day, Sena leader Sanjay Raut expressed confidence that the issue would be resolved through talks between the allies.
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