On Thursday, the Maharashtra government decided to rename the Aurangabad Airport as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj Airport. The decision was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, as per agency sources. The airport is situated in the Chikhalthana area of Aurangabad.
The issue had been brought up in the Lok Sabha as well, and the decision appears to be somewhat of a middle ground for Uddhav Thackeray, as the demand to rename Aurangabad had initially been of the Shiv Sena's, but the MNS was now attempted to hijack the matter and put pressure on the party, as had the BJP. Municipal polls are also due in Aurangabad.
Uddhav Thackeray stated the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation had passed a resolution to rename the airport after Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj. The cabinet decision will be sent to the Union civil aviation ministry for approval, said the Maharashtra CM.
On February 29, Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil had demanded the government to resolve all technical difficulties and rename Aurangabad as 'Sambhaji Nagar'.The Shiv Sena had slammed Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil stating that "Aurangabad was renamed as Sambhajinagar by Sena supremo late Balasaheb Thackeray 25 years ago". It also said that the BJP has neither given Bharat Ratna to Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar nor laid a single brick for Chhatrapati Shivaji's memorial in Mumbai. "It only wants to play politics over nationalism," the Uddhav Thackeray-led party alleged in an editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana'.
The proposal for the name change was originally passed in the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation in 1995 to rename the city as Sambhaji Nagar. However, it was challenged by Congress corporator Mushtaq Ahmed in the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court.
Incidentally, it was Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray who had publicly promised to rename Aurangabad in August 2015. Welcoming the New Delhi Municipal Council’s decision to rename Aurangzeb Road in Delhi as Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Road, Thackeray called for Aurangabad to be renamed as Sambhaji Nagar.
Aurangabad was a prominent Mughal city in the Deccan region and derives its name from the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. On the other hand, Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, the son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was tortured to death by Aurangzeb.