Yogi Adityanath said many people wanted UP's Allahabad renamed to Prayagraj.
- UP Chief Minister says many people want Allahabad renamed to Prayagraj
- He reportedly wants name changed before the next Kumbh Mela
- Allahabad has historical ties, Prayagraj should be new city: Congress
Allahabad will be renamed "Prayagraj" if there is consensus on renaming the iconic Uttar Pradesh city, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said, provoking a howl of protests from the opposition Congress.
"It might be the wish of many people that Allahabad can be renamed Prayagraj. It will be a very good message. If everyone agrees, we should know this city as Prayagraj and it can be a good start," the saffron-robed chief minister was quoted as saying on Saturday by the news agency ANI.
Allahabad, a historic city with a deep association with the freedom struggle, features the confluence of the rivers Ganga Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati.
Reports suggest Yogi Adityanath wants a new name in place before the Kumbha Mela, a mega spiritual gathering that draws gurus, seers and others from across the nation to Allahabad.
There have been mixed reactions to the rechristening; critics say there have been quite a few name-changes over the past few years.
Congress leader Onkar Singh says the region where the Kumbh takes place is already called the "Prayag (confluence)". If the government wanted, it could make Prayagraj a separate city without any name-change, he suggested.
The Congress leader also pointed out that pre-independence meetings where the freedom movement took shape were held in Allahabad, which is also the birthplace of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
The ruling BJP says the announcement reflects the wishes of crores.
Prayag was the original name of Allahabad, one of the oldest cities of UP. It was named "Illahabad" or "abode of God" by Mughal emperor Akbar in 1575.
Recently, the UP government renamed the Mughalsarai Railway station, another historic spot, to Deen Dayal Upadhyaya junction.
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