Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday justified the decision to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj, equating the rationale with parents deciding against naming their children after mythological characters such as Ravan and Duryodhan.
Responding to the criticism the government received after the name change, Adityanath said: “Log keh rahe hain kyun naam badal diya, naam se kya hota hai? Maine kaha tumhare maa-baap ne tumhara naam Ravan aur Duryodhan kyun nahi rakh diya? (People ask me why I changed the name, what’s in a name. I ask them, why did your parents not name you Ravan and Duryodhan.)”
Allahabad's ancient name was ‘Prayag’ but was changed after 16th-century Mughal emperor Akbar founded a fort near the confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna, known as ‘Sangam’. He named the fort and its neighbourhood Ilahabad. Later, Akbar's grandson Shah Jahan renamed the entire city as Allahabad. But the area near the Sangam, site of the Kumbh Mela, continues to be called Prayag.
Earlier, the chief minister had defended the decision, saying: "Prayag is where Lord Brahma performed the first yagna. The confluence of two rivers is a 'prayag', and in Allahabad three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati meet. Hence, it is the king of 'prayags'. That is why it is 'Prayagraj'."
The decision had led to protests from several quarters, with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav saying “today’s rulers” were trying to show that they are working by just changing the name of Allahabad. "... They have even re-named Ardh Kumbh to Kumbh. This is toying with tradition and belief," the former UP CM had tweeted.