The Maharashtra cabinet, led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, has made a significant announcement regarding the renaming of two major infrastructure projects in Mumbai. The Versova-Bandra Sea Link would be renamed Veer Savarkar Setu, while the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) would be known as Atal Bihari Vajpayee Smruti Nhava Sheva Atal Setu. These name changes were approved by the cabinet, continuing the government’s focus on Hindutva ideologies.
The Versova-Bandra Sea Link, now named Veer Savarkar Sea Link, is currently under construction in Mumbai. Spanning a length of 17.17 kilometres, this bridge will provide connectivity between Versova, located in the suburb of Andheri, and the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in Bandra.
Renaming of the Link:
The decision to rename the Versova-Bandra Sea Link and the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link is part of a series of similar initiatives taken by the Eknath Shinde-led government during its first year in power. Other renamings include Ahmednagar to Ahilyanagar, Aurangabad to Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar, and Osmanabad to Dharashiv. These actions are perceived as a reflection of the government’s emphasis on Hindutva principles. Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis openly declared their government’s adherence to Hindutva and referenced their renaming of Ahmednagar to Ahilyanagar.
Criticism and Controversies Surrounding the Renaming Spree:
Criticism has been raised against the state government’s renaming spree, with opponents arguing that it is an attempt to divert attention from pressing issues. The Congress party, while supporting the renaming of Ahmednagar, condemned the use of names associated with individuals who played negative roles in the freedom struggle. Veer Savarkar, in particular, has been embroiled in various controversies, including recent removals of chapters about him in Karnataka’s textbooks.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s remark, “My name is not Savarkar, my name is Gandhi and Gandhi does not offer an apology to anyone,” further fueled the controversy. This statement led to a sharp response from Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray, who warned of potential rifts in the opposition alliance if Gandhi continued to demean Savarkar.
Defending the Renaming:
In the latest development, the Maharashtra Cabinet has decided to rename the Versova-Bandra Sea Link as Veer Savarkar Setu and the under-construction Mumbai Trans Harbour Link as Atal Bihari Vajpayee Smruti Nhava Sheva Atal Setu. Sudhir Mungantiwar, a senior BJP leader and minister, defended the decision, emphasizing that the bridges were named after two great personalities of the nation. Veer Savarkar holds significant importance within the BJP and has been a subject of intense debate and discussion.
The renaming of these infrastructure projects reflects the government’s commitment to promoting Hindutva ideologies and honouring prominent figures associated with the movement. However, it has also sparked controversies and debates among political parties and the public, with different perspectives on the historical significance and implications of these decisions.
Divided Opinions: Strategic Move or Distraction?
As the assembly elections approach, the renaming spree adds another dimension to the political landscape in Maharashtra. While some view it as a strategic move to consolidate Hindutva support and appeal to the voter base, others criticize it as a distraction from more pressing issues such as infrastructure development, healthcare, and employment. The opposition parties, particularly the Congress, have accused the government of prioritizing divisive ideologies over the welfare of the people.
These renamings are part of a series of similar initiatives taken by the government, which has been met with both support and criticism. While proponents argue that these names honour important figures in Indian history, opponents see it as a diversion from pressing issues.