At a recent public meeting in Goshamahal, the proposition that Hyderabad needed to be renamed ‘Bhagyanagar’ popped up again. The ‘renaming’ is an agenda that has been pushed by the party’s candidate in the constituency, T. Raja Singh for some time now.
But the reiteration in the backdrop of the polls has led to much debate. While the party has been stressing on development as its priority, statements such as this have raised a lot of questions about the party’s intentions. Historians also point out factual problems behind changing the city’s name.
The idea of “Bhagya-nagar” is based on the legend of Bhagmati, a beloved dancer of the ruler Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah. Dr Mohd. Shafiullah, who has been working on separating facts from the legend of Bhagmati, says, “There is absolutely no evidence of Hyderabad ever being called Bhagyanagar. Mention of Bhagnagar, on the other hand, which refers to the city as a city of gardens, at least exists in a few instances, such as in the maps.”
The heritage expert, who is currently working on a 100-page book on the legend of Bhagmati, elaborates, “The name Hyderabad has officially been around for 400 years, since 1603. There are thousands of documents and coins dating back to the 1590s that prove this.”
T. Raja Singh, for his part, has been actively advocating this name change for a while now. Dr Shafiullah himself recalls seeing a poster last year that addressed Narendra Modi and welcomed him to “Bhagyanagar”. Raja Singh, who switched to the BJP from TD last year, has 29 IPC Sections filed against him in 19 cases.
Most of these cases are for hate speeches and communal riots. A total of eight charges for hate speeches, three for using explosives or fire to destroy houses, two for defiling places of worship and two for attempted murder have been booked against him.
“Renaming is a huge process that would also need the backing of GHMC even if the BJP puts forth the proposal. And these are just tactics to polarise the voters so that it can benefit from them,” he adds.
Another prominent historian, Narendra Luther, echoes Dr Shafiullah’s claims. “Bhagyanagar never existed. However, there were mentions of Bhagnagar around 1591 and later the city was named Hyderabad and it has stayed that way. These are facts. Also, there is no point in going around changing a city’s name or reverting to older ones. We don’t call Patna Patliputra, do we? Such efforts don’t do any good and you can’t expect magic. There are so many substantial issues that the parties can focus on,” he says.
BJP Rajya Sabha MP, Prakash Javadekar, however, does not back the proposal of the party’s Goshamahal candidate. “There is nothing to debate here about the name of the city. The city will remain Hyderabad to the government and to us,” he says....