In a bid to woo Dalit voters before the civic polls next year, political parties are shouting over each other with their demands to rename key landmarks of the city.
A month ago, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) demanded that Dadar railway station be renamed as Chaityabhoomi, after the memorial of Babasaheb Ambedkar by the same name. Not to be outdone, the Congress party now has demanded that the station be renamed after the Dalit leader himself.
On Wednesday, city Congress president Kripashankar Singh said it would be fitting tribute to the Dalit icon if Dadar station were to be named after him. “Chaityabhoomi, the memorial as well as the Raj Gruha, the residence of Babasaheb Ambedkar are in Dadar,” said Singh.
He said that he had written to both, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mukul Roy, minister of state for railways with his demand.
On Monday, RPI leader Ramdas Athavale demanded that Mumbai Central station should be renamed after Ambedkar. This is likely to conflict with the ambitions of the Shiv Sena, who wants to rename the station after philanthropist Jagannath Shankarsheth, who played a significant role in development of Mumbai during the British era.
On Wednesday, however, the Sena once again hopped on to the renaming bandwagon. Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said, “Both, Maratha king Shivaji Maharaj and Babasaheb Ambedkar are iconic personalities. So, after Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Churchgate, which is a major railway station, should be renamed after Ambedkar. This would be the real Shiv Shakti-Bhim Shakti alliance.”
“In the event that Churchgate cannot be rechristened, the Bandra-Worli Sea Link should be named after Dr Ambedkar,” Raut added. He also said that the Sena is firm on its earlier demand that Mumbai Central should be named after Shankarsheth.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has condemned parties making such demands. “These are frivolous issues and will only increase tensions in society,” said MNS legislator Nitin Sardesai. “Political parties should adopt constructive programmes instead of indulging in such unwanted campaigns,” he added.