Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath turns game-changer to name-changer

Hindustan Times, Lucknow | By
Jun 18, 2017 08:20 AM IST

The BJP government in Uttar Pradesh headed by chief minister Yogi Adityanath is busy changing the names of schemes and projects to stamp its authority.

Change, they say, is a constant in life and it particularly holds true for Uttar Pradesh. More than two months after the people of the state overwhelmingly voted for change and replaced the Samajwadi Party (SP)-led government with one headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the new administration of chief minister Yogi Adityanath is busy changing the names of schemes and projects to stamp its authority.

The word ‘Samajwadi’ preceding ‘Swasthya Seva’ (in Hindi) is covered on a government ambulance. (Ashok Dutta / HT Photo)
The word ‘Samajwadi’ preceding ‘Swasthya Seva’ (in Hindi) is covered on a government ambulance. (Ashok Dutta / HT Photo)

Last week, the state government decided to rename the civilian terminal of the Indian Air Force (IAF) airport in Gorakhpur after Mahayogi Gorakhnath, the founder of the influential Nath monastic movement.

Chief minister Adityanath — who is a follower of the same movement — is a four-time MP from Gorakhhpur and is the mahant (head priest) of the famous Gorakhnath temple.

The government has also proposed to rename the IAF’s Agra airport after BJP ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay.

A senior official said the proposal to rename the two terminals have been sent to the Centre after the state cabinet passed such a resolution.

The government also decided to change the name of the Mughalsarai station near Varanasi after Upadhyay. The cabinet has already petitioned the Centre for the change.

Upadhyay, who died while travelling in a train near Mughalsarai in 1968 is a former president of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the parent organisation of the BJP. Mughalsarai is one of the busiest railway stations on the Eastern Railway network.

The plan to rename the airports and railway station comes after the new chief minister ordered officials to drop the prefix ‘Samajwadi’ from the names of all ongoing government schemes and projects. Samajwadi Poorvanchal Expressway, the eight-lane highway to connect Lucknow with Ballia via Azamgarh, has already become Poorvanchal Expressway.

Similarly, Samajwadi Ambulance Service – a pet project of previous chief minister Akhilesh Yadav - has become just Ambulance Service.

The new chief minister, officials say, want the prefix of ‘Samajwadi’ to be replaced with ‘Mukhya Mantri’. The Samajwadi Pension Scheme aimed at senior citizens below the poverty line has already become Mukhya Mantri Pension Scheme. Various other departments are currently looking to change the names of their projects and schemes according to the wishes of the CM.

Similar decisions have been made at the Centre, where the Narendra Modi government faces charges of making cosmetic changes to nomenclature of many schemes started by previous governments. Critics say the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana has been renamed as Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana.

The name-change exercise has brought about both amusement and derision in Uttar Pradesh. Residents have been found to be animatedly speculating which projects could be the next to acquire new identities. If rumours are to be believed, the Lohia Samagra Gram Vikas Yojana named after the late Socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia and the Janeswar Mishra Gram Yojana could be the next to undergo a name change. Mishra, incidentally, was a senior SP leader in his lifetime.

Not many are impressed with the cosmetic changes. “If a government of any political party names schemes and projects after great leaders, the names should not be changed by the government of other party. The political parties should not take a parochial view,” says SK Dwivedi, a political analyst.

But Uttar Pradesh has always had a history of playing with names. When Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati became the chief minister, she too had resorted to large-scale name changes. Among the things she renamed after icons her party associated with were the names of eight districts. Amethi became Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar, Sambhal became Bheem Nagar and Hathras became Mahamaya Nagar.

Once she lost power in 2012, the new SP government got the names changed back. So Amethi once again became Amethi and Hathras reverted to Hathras.

Officials say the latest round of name-change could also be transient. “Wait for a new government and who knows whether the names will stay or not,” pointed out an official who wanted to remain anonymous. Change, after all, is the way of governance in Uttar Pradesh.

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    Umesh Raghuvanshi is a journalist with over three decade experience. He covers politics, finance, environment and social issues. He has covered all assembly and parliament elections in Uttar Pradesh since 1984.

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