BJP led Uttar Pradesh government has been busy changing the names of schemes and projects in the state. As the latest move, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced the renaming of Panki Railway Station in Kanpur as ‘Panki Dham’ Railway Station on September 7. “Dham” suggests a sacred place for Hindus. It drew criticism from citizens in social media. This latest renaming is in similar modus to that of his earlier renamings wherein emphasis to Hinduism over Islam was made central. He also said that the Kanpur Airport will be named after Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi.
Earlier in June, Aadityanath led Uttar Pradesh government proposed the name changing of Mughalsarai station near Varanasi after Jan Sangh leader, Deendayal Upadhyaya. A month before this, the state government decided to name Agra airport after Upadhyaya as well.
Deen Dayal Upadhyaya was an active worker for the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He is considered as the foremost architect of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the forerunner to the BJP.
The state government also decided to rename the civilian terminal of the Indian Air Force (IAF) airport in Gorakhpur after Mahayogi Gorakhnath, the founder of the Nath monastic movement. Adityanth himself is the head priest of the Gorakhnath Mutt, a leading centre of the Nath monastic order.
A day before Adityanath was named Chief Minister, in a TV interview, he said “Abhi toh aur naam badalne hai"(“More names need to be changed). True to his word, the names are being changed but only in a communal direction. Any person with a little knowledge on religions would say that Hindutva names are being emphasized.
During his tenure as MP of Gorakhpur, since 1998, many places of the city are replaced -- Urdu Bazar as Hindi Bazar, Ali Nagar as Arya Nagar, Miya Bazar as Maya Bazar, Islampur as Ishwarpur, Lahaladpur as Alahaladpur and Humayun Nagar as Hanuman Nagar. It was reported that most of these renamings are based only on vocal assertions by Yogi Adityanath and some of them are still registered with their old names.
In an interview, while speaking to India TV, Adityanath made even more controversial statements. He said that if required he will not hesitate to change "Taj Mahal" into "Ram Mahal". He also proposed that Article 1 of the Constitution be amended to replace the word ‘India’ with ‘Hindustan’.
Adityanath had earlier ordered officials to drop the prefix ‘Samajwadi’ from the names of all ongoing government projects like Samajwadi Ambulance Service, Samajwadi Poorvanchal Expressway and Samajwadi Pension Scheme and replace them with ‘Mukhya Mantri’.
Although this phenomenon of name changing is not uncommon in Uttar Pradesh which saw previous Chief Ministers, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav changing names of places. But, the changes being made in the current Adityanath’s tenure, are more problematic as they reflect Hindutva agenda.