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Uttar Pradesh Minister Om Prakash Rajbhar is known for its controversial statements and this time he has used his words for BJP’s name changing policy and the leader on Saturday (10 November) has said that Bhartiya Janata Party should change the name of his Muslim leaders first before changing cities and places names.  Rajbhar’s party, the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, is a partner in the state’s ruling alliance.

Rajbhar said the BJP changed the names of Mughalsarai and Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh as they were named after “the Mughals”. “They [BJP] have a national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Uttar Pradesh minister Mohsin Raza – three Muslim faces of the BJP,” said Rajbhar. “They should change their names first.”

In his Diwali speech on November 6, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath announced that Faizabad district will be renamed Ayodhya. Last month, the state Cabinet had approved a proposal to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj. In June, Adityanath’s government had renamed the Mughalsarai railway station as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay station.

Rajbhar, minister for welfare of the backward classes in the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet, claimed the names were changed to divert attention of the marginalised groups from their actual issues.

“This is all a drama to distract the backward and oppressed people whenever they raise their voices for their rights,” he said, adding that Muslim rulers built monuments like the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort, among other things.

Not only Rajbhar but Habib, professor emeritus at the Aligarh Muslim University also criticized BJP for this and added the name “Gujarat” derives from Persian as well. “It was called Gurjaratra earlier,” he said. “They [BJP] should change it.”

Habib said the BJP government’s policy of renaming places reflected the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Hindutva policy. “Just like the neighboring country Pakistan where everything that is not Islamic has been removed, BJP and other right-wing supporters want to change things which are non-Hindu, particularly of Islamic origin.”

On Friday, BJP MLA Sangeet Som asked the state government to rename Muzaffarnagar as Laxminagar, reported media.

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