Rajpath is now Kartavya path, NDMC approves the name change unanimously
The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) unanimously approved the name change in a special meeting convened on Wednesday
The central avenue from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate along with the Central Vista lawns will now be known as Kartavya Path instead of Rajpath as the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) -- the civic body overseeing the New Delhi area -- unanimously approved the name change in a special meeting convened on Wednesday.
The revamped stretch is slated to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday. Member of Parliament and Union minister Meenakshi Lekhi, who was the presiding officer of the special council meeting, said that the historic decision has been passed unanimously and signage will be changed overnight to bring it into effect. The one present Aam Aadmi Party member of the council, MLA Virender Singh Kadian, also supported the change.
Council members said that the old name was a symbol of India’s Colonial legacy, and the new designation fits the symbolic value of the central ceremonial avenue. Lekhi said that the inspiration of the name change is derived from the messages of the Prime Minister from Red fort, several of his speeches, and discussions in the NDMC meetings. She said that the place was constructed by the imperialist power, and after Independence the name of the Queensway was changed to Janpath (people’s pat) but Kingsway was merely translated to Rajpath.
“In a system of democratic governance, our inspiration has to be rooted in duty towards nation and duty towards public instead of taking a position of Raj or ruling over people. The idea of democracy is not to rule over others but people being bound by duties. Fulfilment of duty on part of one person automatically leads to completion of rights for the others,” she added.
Further elaborating on the rationale behind the name change, Lekhi said that emphasis has to be on a duty-based approach. “Today’s decision is in line with directive principle of state policy where inspiration has to be drawn from freedom movement, respect for constitution, national flag and duty towards others,” she said.
HT reported earlier this week that the change was on the cards.
The special session was convened on a short notice at 11am on Wednesday, and was attented by 10 council members including Lekhi as presiding officer, BS Bhalla as chairperson of council, Satish Upadhyay as vice chairman. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is also a council member due to being an elected MLA from New Delhi, was not present as he was not in the city.
AAP MLA Kadian, council member said that the party has supported the move in national interest. “AAP ideology supports anything which is done in national interest. The old name was a colonial symbol. We should follow our duties but while also keeping everyone’s sentiment and humanity above all,” he said.
Responding to queries about the renaming regulations and whether the decision needs to be sent to State Names Authority, vice-chairman Satish Upadhyay said that there is no technical ambiguity, and the council is empowered to take this decision. “It will not be sent to the state naming authority as renaming in NDMC area can be done with the direction of Central government under Section 11 of the NDMC Act,” he added.
Another official said that the Race Course Road, where the Prime Minister’s residence is located, was similarly renamed as Lok Kalyan Marg based on inputs received from the central government on September 16, 2016.
Rajpath was known as Kingsway during British Rule. The pathway was created as a ceremonial boulevard and was designed on the lines of Kingsway in London. The key avenue hosts major state functions such as the Republic Day Parade and the Beating Retreat ceremony.
Some of the recent road name changes that sparked debates in the New Delhi area included the renaming of Aurangzeb Road to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road in August 2015. In February 2017, the council announced the name change of Dalhousie Road (after the former governor general) as Dara Shikoh Road. Dara Shikoh was the elder brother of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
The issue of name change in the political seat of power has often generated demands and controversies. In May this year, the Delhi BJP state unit chief Adesh Gupta wrote to NDM to rename six roads named after Mughal rulers in the Lutyens’ Delhi area, including Akbar Road and Tughlaq Road, claiming that these are “symbols of slavery”.
Swapna Liddle, historian and author of Connaught Place And The Making of New Delhi, said Kingsway was renamed as Rajpath, its Hindi translation, after Independence.
“A large number of colonial names were changed during that period and the motivation behind renaming Kingsway was also on the same lines. I am generally opposed to making name changes. The connotation of Rajpath was also still of rule but the nature of rule changed. Raj does not only signify rule by an external force. Swaraj is also a form of raj. This is the road linking Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate. I do not want to get into semantics but Raj can be interpreted in many ways,” she added.