Dubai: The Uttar Pradesh (UP) government on Tuesday approved the proposal to rename Allahabad as ‘Prayagraj’, and social media users were left divided.
On Twitter, #Prayagraj was one of the top trends in India, with many people discussing the government’s decision.
According to the Indian newspaper The Times of India, the UP cabinet confirmed the decision in a meeting, where government spokesperson and Member of Parliament (MP), Sidharth Nath Singh announced that “Prayagraj” would be the new name of the city.
This decision came ahead of the Kumbh Mela, a religious Hindu pilgrimage set to begin in January 2019, in the city. The festival is listed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
In an article by Indian broadcast channel NDTV, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had previously said that the change in name was what the people “wished” for. And in other reports, Singh justified the decision and stated that the word “Prayagraj” appears in ancient texts like the Rig Veda, Mahabharata, and Ramayana.
However, online users were singing a different tune and had a divided opinion on the subject.
Author @AudreyTruschke tweeted: “One striking aspect of #Hindutva is how ashamed its proponents are of Indian history and culture, even those parts that most identify as Hindu. Exhibit of the day - proposal to rename #Allahabad, not #Prayag, its older name, but rather #Prayagraj.”
While Indian journalist @AartiTikoo posted: “Changing names of places is nothing but an assertion of nativism and tribal identity. I think name-change would be alright provided it was preceded by real glory — development, growth, and prosperity. Vacuous nativism is bunkum. No difference in #Prayagraj or #Allahabad if both stink.”
Journalist @SupriyaShrinate highlighted that the UP government should focus on more important issues. She wrote: “Lately I have travelled to #Allahabad frequently. The city is in shambles, desperately needs better roads and infrastructure especially given the fact that the #MahaKumbh [pilgrimage] is barely three months away. Shouldn’t that be the priority over name changes? #Prayagraj @myogiadityanath.”
Other tweeps agreed that the government’s priorities were misguided.
Tweep @Saquibkhawaja_ posted: “I’m sure once we are done renaming all places to their original Hindu names, all these places will become safe havens for women and children; agriculture and small industries will flourish and people will stop throwing garbage. I can’t wait for the magic to start happening #Allahabad to #Prayagraj”
While tweep @neo_pac said: “Can I changed my name to Neeta Ambani? Will that make me a billionaire?”
According to the Times of India report, a Bharatiya Janata Party member said that the change in name “would be used to promote Indian culture on an international scale.”
Some users welcomed this change and said it was the right move for the government to make.
Member of Parliament @ShyamaCGupta: “Welcome change. I am a proud Member of Parliament… Thank you @myogiadityanath. The soul of the city will be revived.”
While tweep @arun2twitt posted: “#Prayagraj. I don’t understand why so-called modern society have a problem [with connecting to] our own culture… We should change the name to all cities so we try to relate with to golden era.”
According to NDTV, Prayag was the original name of Allahabad, one of the oldest cities of UP. In the 16th century, the city was named by Emperor Akbar.