The Madhya Pradesh government's plan to rename the state capital from Bhopal to Bhojpal appears to have run into rough weather, with people from various quarters including the Congress strongly criticising the idea. The state government has said that it wants to change the name in memory of the philosopher king Raja Bhoj, but those who opposed the move contend that Raja Bhoj had nothing to with Bhopal and hence naming the capital after him would serve no purpose.
According to the state government, if the name of Bombay can be changed to Mumbai, Poona to Pune, Calcutta to Kolkata, Madras to Chennai and Bangalore to Bengaluru, then there should be no problem in changing the name of Bhopal to Bhojpal. Rechristening of these cities did not face any roadblock, but this is not the case with Bhopal, as a large section of the people feel that it would lose its identity.
The name cannot be changed unless a proposal for it is sent to the Centre and cleared by it, but so far the state government has not taken any step in this direction. Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said that at a time when Madhya Pradesh was facing a large number of problems, the Bharatiya Janata Party government was trying to divert people's attention by raising non-serious issues.
"The money that the state government is spending on renaming the state capital could well be spent on various development works," Singh said. Senior Congress leader and member of legislative assembly Ajay Singh said that by floating the proposal to change the name, the state government had once again demonstrated that it only believed in cheap gimmicks.
Another Congress MLA, Arif Aqeel, said there was no way in which the name would be allowed to be changed and pointed out that if need be, a public interest litigation will be filed in the Supreme Court on the issue. "I was born a Bhopali, and there is no way in which I would like to die as a Bhojpali," Aqeel said.
A 'Save Bhopal Initiative' peace rally is also being organised on Friday, on the VIP road in front of Raja Bhoj's recently-installed statue, on the issue. Also known as 'Raja Bhoja Of Dhar', he belonged to the Paramara dynasty and ruled the kingdom of Malwa in central India from about 1000 to 1050 AD.
The campaign against the renaming is also being carried out on social networking site Facebook, and also by the local edition of a national daily.