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Renaming Cities in Uttar Pradesh: A Dominant Trend

Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath addressing the gathering in Ayodhya, UP
Photo Courtesy: CM’s Twitter Handle 

On the eve of the Deepawali, the Yogi Government in Uttar Pradesh changed the name of Faizabad District. It will be known as Ayodhya. Ayodhya is a religious and historical place where the Babri Masjid Demolition occurred in the early 1990s. Following the demolition of the Masjid, India especially Uttar Pradesh witnessed an upheaval of the identity politics. In order to woo voters, the successive governments talk and debate about the Ram Mandir and the Masjid. The both of these are emotive issues and related to the Hindus and the Muslims.
As 21 Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, a Mahanth of Gorakhdham, assumed the Office. Since then, Yogi Government has changed names of several major citifies and notable places. He has an absolute majority in the state assembly. Allahabad and Mughalsarai are rechristened as Prayagraj and Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Nagar. In the backdrop of such exercise, Alok Rai, a noted intellectual, wrote in Indian Express, “…Allahabad” was the name of an aspiration to independent, secular, cosmopolitan modernity, that is a fiction. A hope, a sensibility.”

A Political Map of Uttar Pradesh:

It is worthwhile to mention that the Yogi Government renamed a newly constructed cricket stadium located in Lucknow which was started by the previous state government. Now it’s known as Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee International Cricket Stadium, Lucknow. Earlier the stadium was known as Ekana Stadium.
The above-mentioned names have a composite past and a shared history. The recent steps are an attempt to create a monolithic identity across the state which is inspired by the cultural nationalism and identity politics. In this backdrop, there is a need to focus on the demographic profile of India:

Population size 199812341
Population size (Males): 104480510
Population size (Females): 95331831

Source: The Census 2011

Major Religions in UP:
Hindu 159,312,654
Muslim 38,483,967
Christian 356,448

Census 2001 Census 2011
Number of Districts 70 71
Number of Sub-Districts 300 312
Number of Towns 704 915
Number of Statutory Towns 638 648
Number of Census Towns 66 267
Number of Villages 107,452 106,774

Demographically, Uttar Pradesh is the largest state in India which comprises 71 districts. As the political parties are gearing up for the general election 2019, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) are synchronizing its strategy to woo the voters in an important state which influences the national politics in a big way. It is estimated that the total number of Muslim community is 38,483,967 which is a staggering figure. In this backdrop, the government’s decisions should not deliberately ignore the collective cultural past.

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