Proposal to rename Modi's city revived

Proposal to rename Modi's city revived

By: || Updated: 04 Dec 2014 05:43 AM
Ahmedabad: Ahmedabad mayor Meenakshi Patel is planning to move a proposalto rename the city as Karnavati, reviving a long-standing demand of the Sangh parivar and triggering allegations of a "clever ploy" to polarise voters ahead of elections next year.


A well-known minority face in the city dubbed the idea "retrogressive", saying any such change would vitiate the atmosphere.


The mayor, however, said it was the "right time to initiate the process" for what she described as a "sentimental issue" for the people of the city.


"Now that the BJP is ruling the Centre, the state and the corporation, it is possible to do what we could not 13 years ago when the first attempt was made to rename the city," she said, adding the party was capable of tackling any adverse reactions.


"It is the demand of the citizens and we are only responding to the sentiments of people who have waited for long to realise their dream to rename the city," Patel said but conceded that she alone couldn't take the decision because it has to be approved at the highest level.


Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh sources backed Patel, saying Ahmedabad, named after the 15th century ruler Ahmed Shah Badshah, was earlier known as Karnavati after a Hindu king, Karan Dev.


Renaming a city involves a multi-step procedure. The local corporation has to first pass a resolution and then forward it to the Assembly. If the House gives the go-ahead, the resolution has to be sent to the Union home ministry for final clearance.


In 2001, a standing committee of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation had proposed and passeda resolution on renaming the city. The resolution was later sent to the Union home ministry for approval.


In 2004, the Union home ministry under L.K. Advani rejected the resolution on the ground that the Archaeological Survey of India had dismissed the claim that Ahmedabad was ever called Karnavati.


Asked whether the BJP would endorse the move, the mayor sounded both optimistic and cautious. "I will put the proposal before the co-ordination committee next week to consider it. If the idea is approved, we will send the proposal to chief minister Anandiben Patel," the mayor said.


Badruddin Shaikh, Opposition leader in the civic body, said the plan to rename the city was a clever ploy to polarise voters ahead of municipal elections due next year.


Muslims, he said, are sentimentally attached to the name Ahmedabad. "If the BJP again attempts to rename the city, we will oppose it," Shaikh said.


Zafar Sareshwala, a well-known minority face and close confidant of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, called it a "retrogressive idea" that should be junked. "It is not going to make any qualitative difference to the city and to the people. It will only harm the city and vitiate the environment," he said.


Moreover, Sareshwala added, the Prime Minister always refers to Ahmedabad in his speeches. Ahmedabad is Modi's hometown.


An official pointed out that if the name is changed, it could "complicate" things. Ahmedabad, the official said, is in the process of being labelled a heritage city by Unesco and the entire procedure had been done in the name of Ahmedabad. "If they rename it, it will complicate matters."


Sangh spokesperson Pradip Jain backed the mayor, saying it was a "long-pending issue".


"(It's) a question of people's faith," Jain said, "which is always contentious."


--The Telegraph, Calcutta

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