What’s in a (Re)name? Ghaziabad Considers Transition to Gajnagar or Harnandi Nagar in Hindutva Mission

Amid growing demands from Hindutva outfits, the city of Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh is set to join the list of places undergoing a name change. The proposed options are Gajnagar or Harnandi Nagar, sparking both support and controversy.

In a recent board meeting, the town’s urban civic body marked the renaming agenda for January 9, according to a report in the Times of India. The proposal was presented by BJP councillor Sanjay Singh on January 8, and with the ruling BJP enjoying a comfortable majority in the civic body, there appears to be minimal opposition to the move.

Mayor Sunita Dayal, speaking to NDTV, acknowledged that there have been requests for renaming Ghaziabad for some time. However, she emphasized that the matter would need to be discussed at the executive level.

This isn’t the first time Uttar Pradesh has witnessed such renaming endeavors. In 2020, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath proposed changing the name of the Ghagra river to Saryu, a name that holds significance in ancient Hindu scriptures and is believed to have flowed through Ayodhya.

The trend of renaming places gained momentum in 2018 when Allahabad was officially changed to ‘Prayagraj.’ Subsequently, Faizabad district transformed into Ayodhya, the historical Mughalsarai was rechristened as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Nagar, Firozabad adopted the name Chandranagar, and Mustafabad was renamed Rampur. Recently, a proposal to revise the name of Aligarh to Harigarh has also been passed.

The move to rename cities and localities has sparked debates around cultural identity, historical preservation, and the impact on residents who identify with the original names. Critics argue that such changes can erase the historical and cultural fabric of a place, while proponents believe it is a necessary step in asserting a cultural and religious identity.

As Ghaziabad contemplates its potential transformation into Gajnagar or Harnandi Nagar, the decision is likely to be closely watched, given the ongoing discussions about the appropriation of names in the broader socio-political landscape of Uttar Pradesh.

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