New Delhi, Dec. 17 (PTI): Brushing aside opposition from the Congress and reservations from a section of the BJP, the Uttar Pradesh government today decided to rename Amethi, the Gandhi family’s pocket borough, as Chhatrapati Sahuji Maharaj Nagar and accord it district status.
The Cabinet approved the proposal at a meeting here, official sources said, only days after chief minister Mayavati visited the town and attacked the Gandhi family.
She had been peeved by Priyanka Gandhi storming a police station in her mother’s constituency to highlight the plight of a Dalit youth whose house was allegedly razed by a Thakur landlord.
The decision will become effective after completion of the delimitation work, currently in progress in Amethi parliamentary constituency, the sources said.
The announcement to make Amethi a district and name it after Chhatrapati Sahuji Maharaj was made by Mayavati at a rally in Amethi last Wednesday.
The Congress immediately opposed the renaming, with its workers staging demonstrations and burning Mayavati’s effigy in many parts of the state from the next day.
Reacting to the government’s move, BJP leader and former Union minister Sanjay Singh said the people of Amethi would never accept the renaming.
“Sahuji Maharaj’s activities were mainly in Maharashtra and very few people know him in Uttar Pradesh. There is no justification in renaming Amethi after him,” he told reporters here.
Singh said he has written to senior BJP leaders, including the Prime Minister, the deputy Prime Minister and the party president, registering his protest. “The party leadership has assured me that the name of Amethi will not be changed.”
Singh, who had lost to Sonia Gandhi in the last elections from Amethi, said the Cabinet decision could be rescinded before the delimitation process is over. The option of taking legal recourse is also open to him, he added. He was not opposed to according district status to Amethi.
“People of the area are emotionally attached to the name Amethi which was derived from Saint Amrishi. If the name has to be changed, it should be rechristened after Raja Rananjai Singh, a former ruler of Amethi,” he said.
Singh said he would raise the matter in the BJP national council beginning in New Delhi on December 23.
Referring to the absence of local MLA and his wife Ameeta Singh, a minister in the Mayavati government, from the chief minister’s function at Amethi last week, he said she was not invited. “It has set a bad precedent,” he added.