In what turned out to be Uddhav Thackeray's final move to claim the Maratha-Hindutva ideology amid a mutiny that unseated him, the Maharashtra cabinet on Wednesday evening approved renaming of Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar and Osmanabad to Dharashiv.
While possible legal tangles remain — something Mr Thackeray, too, said last year — the renaming was a crucially timed political move, coming just hours before he resigned after the Supreme Court refused to halt a vote in the assembly scheduled for Thursday morning.
Sambhaji was the eldest son of Chhatrapati Shivaji, the Maratha king after whom the party is named. He was killed on the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who gave Aurangabad its name in the 17th century. Renaming it after Sambhaji has for long been Shiv Sena's demand. Ally Congress supported the move today, though it had earlier said renaming "should not be a political agenda".
Osmanabad, named after Hyderabad's last ruler Mir Osman Ali Khan, derives its new name, Dharashiv, from sixth-century caves near the city. This, too, has been on the Sena's agenda for a while.
The cabinet also decided to name the new airport in Navi Mumbai after DB Patil, a leader of the people displaced to build the satellite town.
Ever since the mutiny began over a week ago, rebels led by Eknath Shinde were challenging Team Thackeray on the plank of ideology. They insisted that the party should break up with the NCP and Congress to resume a tie-up with "natural ally" BJP; but Mr Thackeray eventually quit instead.
At Wednesday evening's cabinet meeting, Mr Thackeray said that his own people had betrayed him and thanked the alliance's ministers for standing by him.
Eknath Shinde claimed support of 50 MLAs, including 40 of the Shiv Sena's 55. Stunted in the numbers game, the Thackeray camp called them traitors who made a false claim to the legacy of Bal Thackeray, the Sena's founder and Uddhav Thackeray's father.
In his resignation speech, Uddhav Thackeray said the renaming of the two cities was "Balasaheb's dream that we have fulfilled".