In the drought-stricken Marathwada region, the focus has shifted to renaming the historic city of Aurangabad, with ruling allies Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena raising a pitch to rename the city after Shivaji Maharaj's son Sambhaji, a move opposed by parties like Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen.
Amid the clamour for renaming Aurangabad as 'Sambhajinagar', noted writer Dr Sadanand More has suggested that the city be named after Dara Shikoh, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's favourite son and elder brother of Aurangzeb, who was a great scholar and an able military commander.
More, a historian and writer of repute, said Dara Shikoh's secular credentials make it an apt choice for Aurangabad to be named after him. Dara had deep respect for Hindu and Sufi philosophy, he added.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has said the BJP-led government in Maharashtra will soon make an announcement regarding renaming Aurangabad as 'Sambhajinagar', a name by which the Sena refers to the city in its mouthpiece Saamana.
Maharashtra BJP president Raosaheb Danve, speaking to reporters in Mumbai on Tuesday, said his party does not agree with the views expressed by More.
"BJP is of the view that Aurangabad should be renamed as 'Sambhajinagar'. This is a proposal by the Aurangabad municipal corporation which is pending due to a court case," Danve said.
Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said More's views express his 'intellectual bankruptcy'.
"More should tell the public what great contribution did Dara Shikoh make," she said.
Jnanpeeth award winner Bhalchandra Nemade said people of Aurangabad should be provided "a glass of drinking water" instead of spending energy on renaming the city.
The MIM MLA from Aurangabad Imtiyaz Jaleel had said the city should not be named as 'Sambhajinagar'.