Only if Hyderabad becomes ‘Bhagyanagar’ can the city be on the road to ‘vikas’ (development), Adityanath said
Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) radical Hindu nationalist leader, wants to change the name of the historic city of Hyderabad this time.
“Only if Hyderabad becomes ‘Bhagyanagar’ can the city be on the road to ‘vikas’ (development),” Adityanath said, while addressing a public meeting in the capital of southern Telangana state on November 29.
Adityanath’s visit came three days ahead of the city’s municipal elections.
Speaking at the Old City area after a two-hour-long roadshow, the UP chief minister declared that if the BJP was elected to power, it would change the name of the city to Bhagyanagar.
“People often ask me if Hyderabad can be renamed Bhagyanagar. I tell them why not. Then, they ask me how.”
However, BJP has lost to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the election.
Though, marking a stunning performance in the elections, the BJP emerged as the second-largest party, dislodging the TRS from half the seats it had held.
While the BJP tally went up from four in 2016 to 48, the TRS numbers went down from 99 to 55.
The municipal election this year has suddenly become about polarizing identities.
The BJP flew in its top campaigners to namecheck all the preoccupations of the Hindu Right: Pakistan, Kashmir, surgical strikes, the Mughals, biryani, Ayodhya, Rohingya refugees.
Home Minister Amit Shah vowed to erase the city’s “Nizami culture” and turn it into a “Mini Bharat.”
Shah kicked off his campaign with a visit to the disputed temple nestled against the walls of the Charminar, the monument that has come to symbolize the city.
It is not that polarization is new to Hyderabad. The city has a history of battles, riots and bomb blasts that have often divided communities who live in it.
Paranoia about Rohingyas refugees in the Old City has been fanned for years. Communal rhetoric is routinely dredged up in state and general elections.
But governments in charge of the city also managed to move past these conflicts to script a different story: Hyderabad as a software and education hub, Hyderabad as a modern, progressive city.
The Nizami culture that the BJP seeks to destroy was considered the heritage of all its residents, Hindu or Muslim.
It is another matter that Hyderabad’s growth story has lost some of its sheen in recent years.
Observers suggest that the average Hyderabadi worries most about bad roads, poor sanitation, healthcare and education.