The Opposition parties slammed the move of the Yogi Adityanath government to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj ahead of the Kumbh Mela beginning in January next year.
Even as a formal order for the renaming of Allahabad is about to be issued, the religious leaders of Ayodhya have raised the demand for renaming Faizabad as Ayodhya.
The saints of Ayodhya have decided to raise the demand before Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath when he visits Ayodhya for Deepotsav (lighting the lamps) ceremony on the bank of river Saryu on Diwali.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav criticised Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath over the move to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj, saying he was “doing nothing for the people and claiming credit by just renaming cities”.
“Raja Harshvardhan made ‘Prayag Kumbh’ great by offering donations but the present day rulers are trying to take credit for the work just by renaming the city to Prayagraj,” the former Chief Minister tweeted on Monday.
“They (BJP) have even renamed Ardh Kumbh as Kumbh. This mocks our tradition and belief,” he added. The Congress also hit out at the ruling dispensation. Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary Onkarnath Singh said changing the name of the historic city to Prayagraj was an attempt to fiddle with the history of the nation.
The UP Congress, citing the role of Allahabad in the freedom movement and its association with Nehru, has opposed the renaming of the city as Prayagraj.
The Congress said erasing the name of Allahabad from history would be an insult to the freedom movement. It said the government could carve out a new district and name it as Prayag as Kaushambi district was carved out of Allahabad.
“There is already an area which is called Prayag so there is no need to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj. Allahabad has its own historic importance and changing the name of the city will definitely not be accepted by the people of the country,” the Congress leader said.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had announced on Saturday that there was a proposal to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj ahead of the 2019 Kumbh Mela.
Allahabad’s ancient name was Prayag, but it was changed after 16th-century Mughal Emperor Akbar built a fort near Sangam, the holy confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Saraswati. He named the fort and its neighbourhood ‘Ilahabad’. Later, Akbar’s grandson Shah Jahan renamed the entire city as ‘Allahabad’. But the area near the Sangam, the site of the Kumbh Mela, continues to be known as Prayag.
“Prayag is where Lord Brahma performed the first yajna. The confluence of two rivers is a ‘prayag’, and in Allahabad three rivers — Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati — meet hence it is the king of ‘prayags’. That is why it is ‘Prayagraj’,” the Chief Minister said explaining the root of the name.
Earlier, the Yogi Adityanath government had changed the name of Mughalsarai Junction as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Junction.
Last year, the seers of different akharas had met Yogi in Lucknow and had urged him to change the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj.