Kolkata: In 2018, under the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, Allahabad turned into Prayagraj, Faizabad's name was changed to Ayodhya. The Mughalsarai junction was rechristened as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhaya junction. 

The Sangh Parivar, in the new year, continues to press for name-changes. Muslim names of cities are again the target and name-changes are being advocated to "reclaim India's history".

Accordingly, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in Bengal is again pressing for a demand to rename the district of Murshidabad as Brahmapur, in spite of being turned down by the Mamata Banerjee government. In fact, the VHP and Bajrang Dal held a conclave in the district this weekend in demand of a Ram temple at Ayodhya, and in that conclave, the Murshidabad district was referred to as Brahmapur on banners and posters.  

Why Brahmapur?

According to the saffron brigade, Murshidabad is ideally split in two zones — Jangipur and Behrampore. In fact, in recent times there have been discussions on whether the district can be split in two. The VHP and Bajrang Dal maintain that Jangipur is actually Brahmapur and Behrampore is Raghunathganj. 

"We are demanding what is there. That's how locals refer to them as. I don't know why such desperation to name them otherwise," Bengal Bajrang Dal leader Pritam Bajaj said. 

History of Murshidabad

The district of Murshidabad gets its name from a historical town that was the seat of power of the Bengal nawabs. Murshidabad was named after the first nawab of Bengal, Murshid Quli Khan, who was given the title of 'Murshid' by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. 'Murshidabad' itself was a result of renaming of the city of Mukshusabad by Murshid Quli Khan. This was done purportedly around 1703-04. 

Asked on the origin of the name Murshidabad, Bajaj said he can only talk about the present.

Since Murshidabad is a district with 70% Muslim population, the demand for name-change has attained a communal overtone. Earlier, the VHP had called for a change in the name of Islmapur to Ishwarpur.

Role of VHP

Speaking to MyNation, Bengal VHP leader Sourish Mukherjee said, "We are not asking for a name change. In fact, we are opposing it. That is our stated position. When it was named Murshidabad, it was renamed. We want to go back to its original name that is Brahmapur." Asked on whether it's a deliberate targeting of districts that are minority-dominated, he said, "That's unfair. Contrary to that, we want to undo the forced Islamisation of places like Brahmapur or Ishwarpur (known as Islampur)."   

The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has all along been dismissive of such demands. TMC leaders have gone on record to allege that these are efforts made at the behest of the BJP to communally polarise the state. Be that as it may, the bug of changing names is here to stay till the elections are over.