Aurangabad: The BJP on Saturday demanded that the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government rename the city of Aurangabad as 'Sambhajinagar' after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's elder son, Sambhaji.
The central Maharashtra city, now a prominent industry centre, was given its name by the 17th century Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The Congress, which is part of the ruling coalition in the state, hit back, claiming that RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar had "defamed" Chhatrapati Sambhaji, and demanding that the BJP first condemn Golwalkar's writing.
"We are descendants of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his son Sambhaji Maharaj, and not of Aurangzeb. Therefore, Aurangabad should be renamed as Sambhajinagar by resolving all technical difficulties," state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said here.
He was speaking to reporters after holding meetings of party workers for the April 20 local body elections. Notably, it was the Shiv Sena, the BJP's friend-turned-foe, which had first demanded renaming of Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar decades ago.
A proposal to rename the city was passed by the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation in June 1995, but it was challenged by a Congress corporator in the high court and later, in the Supreme Court and made no further progress.
Reacting to Patil's demand, state Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant alleged that Golwalkar, late former supremo of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), had made slanderous comments about Sambhaji in his book "Bunch of Thoughts".
Golwalkar had said in his book that Sambhaji was addicted to vices, the Congress leader claimed.
"Chandrakant Dada (as Patil is fondly called) will you condemn? Or else, the @BJP4Maharashtra has no right to take name of Sambhaji Maharaj," Sawant wrote on Twitter.
Aurangzeb, when he was a Mughal viceroy, annexed the city into the Mughal Empire and made it the headquarters of the Deccan province.