Is using Sambhaji Maharaj's name crime, asks Sanjay Raut on renaming row

MUMBAI: Days after the Congress objected to Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) mentioning Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar in a tweet, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Friday asked whether using the name of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj in government documents a crime.

The Shiv Sena, which currently shares power with the Congress and the NCP in Maharashtra, has time and again demanded that Aurangabad in central part of the state be renamed as Sambhajinagar, after the elder son of warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji.

However, Maharashtra minister and state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat has been saying that his party would strongly oppose the move to rename Aurangabad.

Two days back, the Maharashtra CMO, in one of the tweets about cabinet decisions, had mentioned the city as Sambhajinagar.

However, Thorat had objected to it saying that the Directorate of Information and Publicity should not rename cities on its own and that it should remember that official work is a legal document.

When asked about it, Raut told reporters in Nashik that a government functions in the name of chief minister.

“Is using the name of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj and Shivaji Maharaj on government documents a crime? It is people’s sentiment and the government functions on the basis of people’s sentiments,” he said.

Raut said Sambhajinagar was the name given to Aurangabad city by late Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray.

“It will remain that way,” he said.

To a question on Congress’s argument that the renaming issue was not part of the common minimum programme (CMP) of the three parties, Raut said the CMP is meant to ensure the welfare of the people.

“The CMP does not say people’s wishes shouldn’t be accepted,” he said.

Aurangabad, once the headquarters of the Dakkhan (Deccan) province in Mughal empire, derives its name from Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

Replying to questions on the upcoming local bodies elections, Raut said all the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies were trying to find a common ground to contest the local elections together.

“We may succeed in some places to fight unitedly,” he said.

The Sena leader also criticised the delay in approving the names of 12 candidates for their nomination to the state Legislative Council by Governor B S Koshyari from his quota.

“Constitutional values should be upheld by those holding constitutional posts.

The Constitution clearly mentions that it is mandatory to accept the recommendation regarding the names submitted by the cabinet,” he said.

“Make it clear first whether you want to keep the issue pending till you topple the MVA dispensation and get a government of your choice,” he said.

When asked whether he was referring to the governor or the BJP, Raut said, “It is up to you. I have said what I wanted to.”