A view of the Indian historical monuments Mecca Masjid (L) and Charminar (R) are pictured at dusk in the old city section of Hyderabad on July 28, 2014. Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan during which followers are required to abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn to dusk. AFP PHOTO/NOAH SEELAM (Photo credit should read NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images)
A MAJOR political row started in the poll-bound southern Indian state of Telangana after leaders of the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that the name of the state’s capital Hyderabad, a historical city and also one of India’s major information technology hubs today, would be changed if it comes to power after the elections.
On Monday (27), Asaduddin Owaisi, leader of the city-based All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and its representative to the parliament, slammed the idea of renaming Hyderabad as Bhagyanagar and said the city is their identity and that the move was to only promote politics of hatred.
“First, ask them where did this ‘Bhagyanagar’ come from? Where it has been written. You hate Hyderabad that is why renaming is a symbol of that hatred. Hyderabad is our identity, how will you rename it? They are just doing politics of hatred,” said the firebrand MP, Business Today reported.
He said the name-changing promise showed the BJP’s divisive politics and said the voters of Hyderabad and Telangana would give the party a befitting reply.
All 119 seats of Telangana assembly will go to polls on Thursday (30) and the results will be announced on December 3.
‘BJP’s divisive politics’
Owaisi further said that the promise of renaming Hyderabad was a mark of the “divisive politics of BJP”. “I hope the people of Hyderabad and Telangana will give them a befitting reply.”
On Saturday (25), Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, during a campaign for the BJP in Telangana, said the Hindu nationalist party would change the name of Hyderabad into Bhagyanagar if it came to power.
“(Indian National) Congress made this city Hyderabad but we have come here to make it Bhagyanagar and change the city’s bhagya (luck). Shri Bhagya Laxmi Temple is here and this city will become Bhagyanagar again,” Adityanath, considered a Hindutva poster boy by many, said during his campaign.
Adityanath had also made a pitch to change Hyderabad’s name earlier in 2020 while canvassing for the BJP ahead of the city’s civic polls.
In UP, his government has changed the names of several historical cities. Allahabad has been renamed as Prayagraj while Faizabad as Ayodhya. Currently, there are also proposals to rename many other cities that have Muslim-sounding names.
State BJP chief backs Adityanath
Indian tourism and culture minister G Kishan Reddy, who is also the state chief of the BJP, backed Adityanath’s proposal and said if names of other Indian cities such as Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Chennai (formerly Madras) and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) could be changed, then there is nothing wrong in renaming Hyderabad.
“If the BJP government comes to power, (we) will change the name of Hyderabad. I am asking who is Hyder? Do we need the name of Hyder? Where has Hyder come from? I am asking who needs Hyder. If BJP comes to power, definitely, (we) will remove Hyder and change the name to Bhagyanagar,” he said.
Last year, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi referred to Hyderabad as Bhagyanagar during a speech in the city. He said the mission to unify India by former home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was initiated in Bhagyanagar.
Hyderabad, which was once ruled by Muslim rulers, has a substantial Muslim population of more than 43 per cent (according to the 2011 census).
The contest for power in Telangana looks to be more limited between the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi of chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and the opposition Congress. The BJP is yet to taste power in the state which was founded just a decade ago, bifurcating Andhra Pradesh.