Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Friday said the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government's decision to rename Aurangabad city when it had been reduced to minority was illegal, and it will be ratified again in the next cabinet meeting.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government announced the renaming of Aurangabad in central Maharashtra as `Sambhajinagar' -- after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's elder son Chhatrapati Sambhaji -- in its last cabinet meeting on June 29, hours before Uddhav Thackeray resigned.
Shinde was sworn in as chief minister with the BJP's support the next day, having split the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena.
"The MVA government took the decision to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar in its last cabinet meeting when it had been reduced to a minority government. Holding a cabinet meeting (in such a situation) was illegal," the chief minister claimed at an event here.
Sena founder Bal Thackeray had announced that Aurangabad -- which derives its name from Mughal emperor Aurangzeb -- will be renamed as Sambhajinagar several decades ago, Mr Shinde said.
"The name Sambhajinagar is already there, we will ratify it in the next cabinet meeting," he said, adding that this will make the decision legally safe.
He also said that he rebelled against the Shiv Sena leadership to save the party and its workers. "We got nothing politically despite having our chief minister in the three-party dispensation. We finished fourth in nagar panchayat elections," said Mr Shinde, who was a senior minister in the Sena-NCP-Congress government headed by Uddhav Thackeray.
People of the state accepted his decision to rebel as it was in the party's interests, Mr Shinde claimed.
Meanwhile, Sena leader from Aurangabad and former MP Chandrakant Khaire, who has stayed loyal to Thackeray, warned that party workers would launch an agitation if the name of the city was not changed within a month.
The Eknath Shinde-led government stayed the renaming which was an insult to Chhatrapati Sambhaji, he said, speaking to PTI.
"Why the BJP didn't carry out renaming when it was in power from 2014-19? The BJP-led central government did not even pass the proposal to name the Aurangabad airport (for Chhatrapati Sambhaji)," he said, demanding that the airport too be named within a month.
Aurangabad district Shiv Sena chief Ambadas Danve too said that the "staying" of the decision to rename the city was "unacceptable."