Lucknow, Oct 16 (PTI) The historic city of Allahabad was Tuesday officially renamed as Prayagraj.
The decision was taken by the Uttar Pradesh cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, senior Cabinet minister Siddhartha Nath Singh said, “The renaming of Allahabad as Prayagraj before Kumbh came for approval in the meeting and I am happy to say Allahabad will now be known as Prayagraj.”
“Rig Veda, Mahabharat and Ramayana also mention Prayagraj (for Allahabad),” he noted.
“The people of entire Allahabad, the sages and seers wanted that Allahabad should be known as Prayagraj.Two days back, when the chief minister had chaired a meeting pertaining to Kumbh there, he had himself mooted that Allahabad should be called Prayagraj. All the sages and seers had given their unanimous approval for the same,” he added.
On a trip to Allahabad on Saturday last, the chief minister had said there was a proposal to rename the city ahead of the 2019 Kumbh Mela.
The Opposition had dubbed the move as a poll ploy. Meanwhile, people from the society including intellectuals, teachers, and the common man had given mixed reactions to the move to rename Allahabad, also known as the Sangam city.
The Congress party had argued that the city had played a key role in the country’s freedom struggle and renaming it would diminish its importance.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, on the other hand, said the Yogi Adityanath government wanted to exhibit its work only by “renaming”. “… They have even re-named Ardh Kumbh to Kumbh. This is toying with tradition and belief,” Yadav, Adityanath’s predecessor, said in a tweet.
On Saturday, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had visited Allahabad and said that there was a proposal to rename the city in the run-up to the 2019 Kumbh Mela.
Energy Minister and government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma had supported the move. “Some persons are objecting to renaming Allahabad as Prayagraj. The objections are baseless. It is the right of the government to rename any city. If needed, we will rename more cities and roads. The mistakes done earlier will be rectified,” Sharma had said.
State Governor Ram Naik was also supportive of the demands put forth by saints and people of the Sangam city to rename it, the minister had said.
Welcoming the move, Allahabad University’s medieval and modern history department head Prof Yogeshwar Tiwari said Mughal Emperor Akbar named the city ‘Ilahabas’ in 1574 which later came to be known as Ilahabad and then Allahabad. However, the city has been mentioned as Prayag in ‘ancient sacred texts such as ‘puranas’, ‘Valmiki Ramayan’, Mahabharat and manuscripts of Kalidas, he said, adding the change will help the new generation to understand the history of the city better.
However, Prof Harsh Kumar of the ancient history department said that the name Prayag was established as a ‘tirthraj’ or a place of pilgrimage but not as a city. The place was a center of ancient ‘Rishis’ and sages who used to perform ‘tapasya’ at the ashrams, he said, contending that the region was known for two cities Pratishthanpur (now Jhunsi) and Kaushambi.
“Allahabad came into existence during the period of Akbar. The emperor launched a new religion ‘Deen-e-Ilahi’ on which the city was named Ilahabad. Changing the name of the city does not makes any sense as the name “Allahabad’ represents a mixed culture of the city,” he added. Akbar’s religion had sought to combine the features of various Indian religions.
Akhil Bhartiya Akhada Parishad president Narendra Giri said the Ramcharit Manas mentions the name Prayagraj, which was later, changed to Allahabad. “However, changing the name of the place does not changes the history. The faith of crores of people is connected with Prayagraj. The people who are opposed to Prayagraj are unaware of the fact that the place was known as Prayagraj since ages,” he said.