The BJP government in Uttar Pradesh led by Yogi Adityanath seems all set to name a number of places after late PM and party icon Atal Behari Vajpayee. In the past, Mayawati also dedicated public buildings and places after BSP founder Kanshi Ram.
Lucknow: Does changing names of government buildings and schemes prove to be a game-changer? In the past one decade, every political party in Uttar Pradesh seems to have believed that it does.
The Yogi Adityanath government is currently busy naming roads, parks, crossings, buildings and everything after BJP icon and former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who passed away last month.
When the renaming process is complete by the end of the year, Lucknow alone will have more than two dozen public spots and facilities named after Vajpayee.
One can travel through the Atal Behari Vajpayee road, pass through the Atal Chauraha, turn right and reach the Atal Behari Vajpayee convention centre. Or you can move straight, pass over the Atal Setu and get to the Atal Behari Kalyan Mandap.
The Yogi government began its name-changing spree two months ago when it decided to rename the iconic Mughalsarai railway station (which is the fourth busiest railway junction in the country) as Deendayal Upadhyaya Junction. The move was a mark of respect toward BJP’s co-founder.
The state government is now set to change the name of Allahabad to Prayag Raj before the 2019 Kumbh Mela. Saints claim that the original name of this historic city was Prayag Raj and the Mughals had changed it to “Allahbad” which later became Allahabad.
Even before the official renaming takes place, all signage in the upcoming Kumbh Mela township in Allahabad have the name “Prayag Raj” on them.
If sources are to be believed, some other districts in Uttar Pradesh that have “Muslim sounding names” like Aligarh, Azamgarh, Shahjahanpur, Ghaziabad, Ferozabad, Farukkhabad and Moradabad could be given new names, but that may happen next year.
The name-changing trend began in Uttar Pradesh in 2007 when the BSP came to power.
Ms Mayawati renamed eight districts— most of them after dalit icons. She named Shamli as Prabudh Nagar, Sambhal as Bhim Nagar, Hapur as Panchsheel Nagar, Kanpur Dehat as Rama Bai Nagar, Kasganj as Kanshi Ram Nagar, Amethi as Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar, Amroha as Jyotiba Phule Nagar and Hathras as Mahamaya Nagar.
The changes in names not only incurred huge financial losses due to repainting of signage and reprinting of official stationery, but also led to widespread confusion. There were instances of people boarding wrong buses and sending postal goods to wrong addresses.
Almost everyone felt that places that have been known traditionally by one name - howsoever irrelevant they may be -- remain etched in people’s mind while new names are not remembered easily.
Ms Mayawati had also renamed the prestigious King George’s Medical University (KGMU) as Chhatrapati Shahuji Medical University. This had the alumni of the KGMU, popularly known as Georgians worldwide, up in arms.”Will we be known as Shahujians now?” asked the USA Georgians Association.
However, the game of changing names did not help the BSP which lost the 2012.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, who formed the next government, lost no time in restoring the original names of many public institutions. He was also cautious not to rename places. Instead, he built new parks and buildings that he named after the Samajwadi icons. These included Janeshwar Misra Park and JP International Centre.
Ms Mayawati expectedly slammed the SP for “insulting the dalit icons and leaders” and tried hard to mobilise her dalit voters on the issue. She did not succeed and drew a blank in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. A proof of the fact that name changing is not always a game-changer.