When the first Hindutva government of the country has only months left to complete its term, and is in jitters about possible defeat mainly because it has not beeen able to fulfil most of its electoral promises, the government is preparing to use its Hindutva card in such an emotional fashion as never seen before.
Since the ownership of land in Ayodhya is under dispute and pending with the Supreme court, Modi's government is now being forced to express its inability before its followers to fulfil the promise to build a Ram temple at the site where Babari masjid once stood before it was demolished. It is not yet certain whether the court's final verdict will come before the general election and if at all it does, whether it will be as wished for by advocates of temple construction. Hence the scramble to find short cuts to prove its pariotism.
The latest example of this thrust is the order by Gujarat government that when school attendance is marked, pupils should give up saying 'Yes Sir' or 'Present Sir' and start saying 'Jai Hind' or 'Jai Bharat'. The government of Rajasthan has reportedly implemented this 'reform' already. In UP, Yogi Adityanath's government is in a mad run changing Muslim place names to Hindu names. The government's proposal to change the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj has been approved by Modi government. Just weeks ago, the name historic city of Faisabad was renamed as Ayodhya. The railway station of Mughalsarai where the former Bharatiya Jan Sangh president Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya was found dead during a train journey, is now known known after the deceased leader. All quite natural for the Hindutva forces for whom hearing the very name of Mughals who ruled India for centures, is anathema.
The renaming craze of Hindu Yuva Vahini leader Yogi Adityanath had started as early as 1988 when he was elected to Lok Sabha from Gorakhpur in UP. Yogi's renaming spree, through changing Urdu Bazar to Hindi Bazar, Ali Nagar to Arya Nagar, Islampur as Easwarpur and Humayun Nagar as Hanuman Nagar, has by now declared changes of about 25 place names.
Right on assuming office as UP chief minister in 2017, Yogi launched his process of renaming by asking 'If not now, when?'. The observation by political commentator Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay that the BJP's name-changing series is inroduced when it is unable to provide jobs or fulfil its electoral pledges in order to divert the people's attention. But the BJP would do well to remember what Yogi achieved for his party through his declarations while launching the recent election campaigns in Telengana – that the names of Hyderabad and Karim Nagar would be changed to Bhagya Nagar and Karipur respectively: BJP which had 5 seats in the dissolved assembly now has just one seat!
No responsible citizen does argue, nor will he, that one should not have love for the nation and patriotism. But that has to be expressed by protecting national security and maintaining the country's stability at the same time while finding solutions to people's problems and implementing development schemes. While leaving poverty and unemployment and ill-health untouched, rampantly violating human rights, unleasing mob lynching in the name of cow protection, shooting innocents with allegations of treason, and giving green signal to fake encouners, singing vande mataram or shouting jai bharat will not bring patriotism. Those indulging in these are the real traitors.
Most of the place names in India are Indian, Hindu or those that came into vogue via regional languages. Wiping out the relatively very rare Muslim names from among them, impelled by mere spite and hatred, will only result in uncovering the hidden intolerance, revenge and ill-will of the mind. If the insistence is on changing all Muslim names, the question raised by many would be pertinent: would it not be better done after Hinduising the names of people within its own camp like Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Shahnavaz Hussain?