The BJP-led government in Assam has decided to rename places in the state that do not reflect Assam’s tradition and culture.
Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on February 16 tweeted that the government would soon launch a portal to invite suggestions on change of names of cities, towns or villages that are “contrary to our civilisation, culture and derogatory to any caste or community”.
“There’s much in a name. The name of a city, town or village should represent its culture, tradition and civilisation. We shall launch a portal to invite suggestions on change of names across Assam which are contrary to our civilisation, culture and derogatory to any caste or community,” Sarma said in his tweet.
Responding to the chief minister’s tweet, social media users opposed the idea of changing some British-era names of places such as Digboi and Margherita that have been associated with the name and fame of the oil and coal industry in Assam for centuries.
Digboi, known as one of the world’s oldest operational oil refineries, is said to have derived its name from “dig, boy, dig”, while some historians attribute the name to Diboi Nallah, a stream passing through the oil town.
Similarly, Margherita is a town named by Italian railway engineer Chevalier Roberto Paganini in honour of his country’s queen.
Opposition parties said the Assam chief minister followed the strategy of his Uttar Pradesh counterpart, Yogi Adityanath, trying to woo people’s sentiments by changing names of places.
Congress’ chief spokesperson Bobeeta Sharma said that each name that was given at a particular time and situation has a history and reason behind it.
“Naming of a place has some relevance. The names given might be related to some iconic personality or local issue or can even have some interesting incident attached to it. I strongly oppose such a move to change history,” she told mediapersons.
Bobeeta Sharma suggested that the BJP or the party-led government should focus on scripting new history by achieving some success for the state of Assam and the country that would remain etched in the minds of the people, rather than meddle with what is already existing.
Assam Jatiya Parishad leader Jagadish Bhuyan said that they (BJP government) should concentrate only on the basic problems people are facing in their daily lives.
“Changing name of a place or an institution is not a fundamental issue in the prevailing situation. If we consider the Assam CM’s plan, how is Deendayal Upadhyaya relevant to the tradition and civilisation of Assam,” asked Bhuyan.