The Shiv Sena and the Congress, the ruling allies of the in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra, clashed over renaming the city of Aurangabad. The Uddhav Thackeray-led party was of the view that one is not being "secular" if they find "cruel and religiously blind" Mughal emperor Aurangzeb "dear".
While the Congress hit back by accusing the Sena and the opposition BJP, erstwhile allies of playing politics over renaming cities and asked them why they did not question the name of the city when they were in power.
Both, Shiv Sena and BJP have been demanding renaming Aurangabad as "Sambajinagar", after Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Writing for 'Rokhthok', the weekly column in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana', party MP Sanjay Raut expressed displeasure over Congress' opposition to renaming Aurangabad.
He confessed that parties like Congress feel that minority communities, such as Muslims, will not like changing the city's name and that will affect their "secular image", eventually affecting their vote banks. He emphasised that Aurangzeb was not secular but a "cruel" administrator. "Aurangzeb was religiously blind and harboured hatred towards other religions," he expressed.
Raut further shared that Aurangzeb considered Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj as his enemy and killed Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj brutally.
"There should be no city named after such Aurangzeb at least in Maharashtra. This (demand) is not religious blindness. Call it 'Shivbhakti' (devotion to Shivaji Maharaj), Maharashtra's self-esteem or the sense of history. Prostrating before those who find Aurangzeb dear! This is not secular behaviour!"
Countering Shiv Sena's view, Balasaheb Thorat, Maharashtra Congress president, said that Shiv Sena and BJP are playing politics over renaming cities and questioned why they did not think of this when they were in power. He expressed that both, BJP and Sena have led the people of Aurangabad down, despite being in power in the municipal corporation.
"The renaming issue is being raked up now to mislead the local people. Our ally in the state, the Shiv Sena, is worried about its votes. Hence it has initiated this 'Saamana' (match) of renaming".
"We are Marathi people and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj are our deities. We will not seek votes using our role models and we will strongly oppose
if anyone does so", added Thorat.
With PTI inputs