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Ahmedabad is Karnavati, only in speeches


Monday 9 February 2004, by MEHTA*Harit

AHMEDABAD: They all shed their old names - Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram.

Nearer home, even Baroda became Vadodara. But, Ahmedabad, named after the 15th century ruler Ahmed Shah may well have to wait a while to be called Karnavati.

With political parties fighting it out for over a decade now, the name may be confined to speeches of political leaders and to adorn some clubs and hotels. The re-naming movement, which saw senior leaders like Ashok Bhatt take an active part, has lost steam. Till a few years ago, Bharatiya Janata Party leaders were hysteric about it. Nearly a decade after the party passed a resolution in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to rename the city, not many in the BJP like to be reminded about it.

The resolution (no. 154) passed on May 11, 1990 to rename Ahmedabad as Karnavati was forwarded to the state government. "The state government sent it to the Centre but there was hardly any action," said an AMC official.

It did not take the Congress long to cancel the resolution when it returned to power in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation in October 2000. It passed resolution number 246.

Three days after that law minister Ashok Bhatt staged a dharna outside the AMC to protest the decision and demanded that the city be renamed Karnavati. But now, even BJP leaders admit, "The issue no longer generates the same fervour. Unlike Madras , Bombay and Calcutta , the problem here is peculiar as the city is named after a Muslim ruler," says a BJP councillor.

Officially, however, the BJP maintains it is a live issue. "We are in the opposition and not in a position to pass a resolution. Once we come to power, we will take it up," says Amit Shah, Bharatiya Janata Party leader in the AMC.

"Who was stopping them then?" retort Congress men. "The proposal was shot down by the Centre which has two heavyweights from Ahmedabad alone. With the likes of LK Advani and Harin Pathak in the Cabinet, I don’t think it was difficult if they had the will. The Congress cancelled their resolution only after the Centre rejected it," says Himmatsinh Patel, member of the standing committee who was mayor when the resolution was cancelled.

The BJP was at the helm in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation from 1987 to 1993 and then again from 1995 to 2000. The civic body was under an administrator in 1993-94.

"There is a coalition government at the Centre. That may be a reason for the approval not coming through," says Amit Shah.

"It’s an non-issue now. And the BJP, too, has realised it," says mayor Aneesa Mirza. According to her, with two ministers in Union government representing Ahmedabad the task was never a difficult one. "The sincerity was missing," she says.

See online :


The Times of India, Sunday, Februay 01, 2004.

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