To further its 'cultural agenda of Hindutva', the Yogi government in Uttar Pradesh has officially changed the name of the sacred city of Allahabad to Prayagraj, just ahead of the upcoming Parliament polls.
Through this name change, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is trying to send a message to seers and supporters of Hindutva that though temple construction at the disputed sit of Ayodhya was not progressing to their satisfaction, the BJP government was not refraining from its commitment of propagating the Hindutva agenda.
After losing three important Lok Sabha constituencies—Kairana, Gorakhpur and Phulpur, the party strategists feel that they should strongly pursue the Hindutva agenda to garner political mileage ahead of the polls.
However, the BJP does not see it as a political move and its leader Dr Amit Puri said that changing the name of Allahabad was a matter of faith and not about politics.
Soon after assuming power in the state, the Yogi government had started name-changing to appease a large section of its supporters. For instance, it changed the name of Mughalsarai city and railway junction to Pundit Deendayal Upadhaya Nagar. Deendayal was a BJP ideologue. It also changed the name of ‘Kumbh' to ‘Maha Kumbh’.
Not only this, the Yogi government changed the names of many schemes introduced by the previous Samajwadi Party government. It dropped the prefix of 'Samajwadi' from the Purvanchal Expressway project initiated by the Akhilesh Yadav government.
After the formation of the BJP government in UP, Hindu seers and religious gurus have been demanding the change of Allahabad's name, with even the VHP supporting this demand.
But name-changing is not a new trend and previous governments, too, had resorted to this strategy to placate their vote bank. The Mayawati government, during its previous tenures, changed the names of eight districts in Uttar Pradesh. When the SP government came back to power it restored its original names. For example, Mayawati changed the name of the prestigious medical college of Lucknow from King George’s Medical College to Chatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical university. But when the subsequent SP government came to power it restored the old name.