- Agra has no significance whatsoever: BJP lawmaker Jagan Prasad Garg
- Agrawal community used to live here, so change the name, Mr Garg said
- BJP is trying to bring back India's culture, says BJP leader Sangeet Som
After Allahabad and Faizabad were renamed by the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government as Prayagraj and Ayodhya respectively, there is a growing clamour to change the names of more cities. BJP lawmaker Jagan Prasad Garg has demanded that Agra be renamed as "Agravan" or "Agrawal".
"Agra has no meaning. You check the name Agra anywhere, what relevance does it have? Earlier there used to be a lot of forests here. And people from the Agarwal community used to live here. So the name should be Agra-van or Agra-wal," Mr Garg said at a press conference in the city earlier today.
He represents the Agra North constituency in Uttar Pradesh.
Adding to the demand for renaming cities is controversial BJP lawmaker from Sardhana, Sangeet Som, who wants the name of Muzaffarnagar to be changed to Laxmi Nagar. He claimed that the demand has come from the public.
His other justification is more contentious. "BJP is just trying to bring back the culture of India, which was deliberately changed by the Muslim rulers to end Hindutva. Therefore BJP is working just to safeguard and retain the Indian culture back by renaming the cities with their original names (sic)," Mr Som was quoted by Asian News International as saying.
"The names of many cities are yet to be changed," he added.
There have been mixed reactions to the government's move to rename cities. Critics say there have been quite a few name-changes over the past few years and they appear to be an attempt to distract attention from the fact that there has been no real change on the ground.
"What kind of an agenda is this? How can you obliterate Faizabad and Allahabad. This is the politics of hate and polarisation," said Deepak Kabir, a social activist and theatre personality based in Lucknow.
Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav alleged that the BJP is only trying to hide its failures.
"There is a history behind the name of every city...The BJP is busy in doing things which have nothing to do with the progress and development of the country," he said in a statement, condemning the exercise.
"The government should devote its time in providing jobs to the unemployed youth, increasing income of farmers, bringing back black money from abroad and other promises made before elections, he added.
In August this year, the Uttar Pradesh government had sent a request to the centre to rename the airports in Agra, Bareilly and Kanpur. According to reports, the proposal is to rename the Agra airport after Jan Sangh founder Deen Dayal Upadhyay.
The ruling BJP has justified the name changes across Uttar Pradesh saying they are merely restoring older names and correcting historical distortions.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)