Splitting the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition in the middle, Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray on Friday, defended referring to Aurangabad as Sambahjinagar. Affirming Sena's demand to rename Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar, Thackeray pointed out that 'Aurangazeb was not secular, hence the issue did not fall under the MVA's agenda'. The MVA's 'secular' Common Minimum Programme states in its preamble that the alliance will take a joint view on matters which have consequences on the 'secular fabric of the nation'.
"What is new about that? What has been told for years by Shiv Sena chief is what I did," he said. When asked about Congress and NCP's opposition to the name change, the Maharashtra CM added, "Aurangzeb was not secular. So as per our agenda (Common minimum program), Aurangazeb does not fit in it".
Intensifying the Aurangabad row, CM Uddhav Thackeray's official Twitter handle - referred to the city as 'Sambhajinagar' while announcing an official cabinet decision on Wednesday. Tagging Congress minister Amit Deshmukh, the CM's office announced an allocation of 165 cots and 360 vacancies for cancer hospitals in 'Sambhajinagar'. This has evoked a sharp response from Shiv Sena's allies - NCP and Congress.
Responding to this tweet, Congress state chief & revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat said that those working in state government should take care of not doing such things. Congress has announced that they will oppose any proposal to rename Aurangabad as this issue does not find a mention in the MVA's Common Minimum Programme. Similarly, NCP spokesperson & minority affairs minister Nawab Malik said, "There is no program to change the name of any city on the government's agenda". BJP, on the other hand, has backed Sena's proposal to rename the city. Other parties like VBA, AIMIM, and RPI too have opposed the renaming of the city.
Aurangabad was a prominent Mughal city in the Deccan region and derives its name from the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, the son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was tortured to death by Aurangzeb. In 1995, a proposal was passed in the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation to rename the city as Sambhajinagar.
However, it was challenged by Congress corporator Mushtaq Ahmed in the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court. As his plea was rejected by the HC, Ahmed moved the Supreme Court which stayed the process of renaming the city. The renaming of Aurangabad has been Shiv Sena's longstanding demand.