File photo of pilgrims offering special prayers in the Ganges during Makara Sankranti in Allahabad. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg News)  

Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Clears Proposal To Rename Allahabad

The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet on Tuesday adopted a proposal to rename the historic city of Allahabad as Prayagraj, a move opposed by the opposition parties in the state.

“Keeping in view the feelings and emotions of the people, Allahabad has been renamed Prayagraj by our government. Five hundred years ago the name of the place was Prayagraj as it is at the ‘Triveni Sangam’ (a confluence of three rivers),” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath told reporters in Gorakhpur. “There are many Prayags on the bank of the sacred rivers coming from the Himalayas but this place is Prayagraj.”

Those who are opposing this are not aware of their history, culture and traditions and we can’t have hopes from them.
Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh.

A Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson said that by restoring the old name for the city the government has “rectified the mistake made by Akbar”.

The proposal will now go to the Centre before the city is officially renamed even though an Uttar Pradesh minister seemed to suggest the change has already come into effect. “I am happy to say Allahabad will now be known as Prayagraj,” senior minister Siddhartha Nath Singh told reporters after the Cabinet meeting chaired by the chief minister. “The government has announced this decision. It has come into effect from today.”

He said there is a process to carry out changes and the concerned departments will undertake it. “The state government will write to the Centre.”

Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav had earlier criticised the move. The Congress, too, opposed it, saying the name change ignored the history of Allahabad, which played a significant role during the Independence struggle.

Congress spokesperson Onkar Singh said the region where Kumbh Mela is held is already called Prayagraj. The state government can make that a separate city but Allahabad’s name should not be changed, he added.

On objections to the proposal, Singh said, Prayagraj is a name which was there for a long time. “But almost 500 years ago, someone changed the name. You have been given a name by your parents. Imagine if that name is changed how will you feel?”