Bhopal, March 1 (IANS) Bhopal would be renamed Bhojpal, if Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had his way. He expressed the wish at a function to mark 1,000 years of erstwhile king Raja Bhoj's coronation - an idea that hasn't found favour with some.
'If the name of Bangalore could be changed to Bengaluru, Bombay to Mumbai and Calcutta to Kolkata, why can we not change Bhopal to Bhojpal?' he asked at Lal Parade Ground during the grand function Monday.
'We are recommending it to the centre which would finally decide on it.'
The Chouhan government has renamed Bada Talab, also known as Upper Lake, Bhojtal and VIP Road as Raja Bhoj Road.
In the lavish ceremony thrown to mark 1,000 years of Raja Bhoj's coronation, besides establishing the statue at Upper Lake, a laser show was held to show the life and works of Raja Bhoj to the people.
Bollywood veteran Kabir Bedi anchored the programme while singer Sukhvinder Singh and percussionist Sivamani performed on the occasion. It was also celebrated with massive fireworks on the ground.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari and former president M. Venkaiah Naidu also participated in the functions held Monday morning and late evening.
The issue of renaming the state capital has been around since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power in Madhya Pradesh.
In 2006, then chief minister Uma Bharti tried to rename Bhopal. Now Chouhan has taken it up.
It is believed that Bhopal derives its name from Raja Bhoj.
The Congress, however, is opposed to the idea and has written to the central government against it.
Party legislator Arif Masaud said: 'For thousands of years, Bhopal has been a symbol of Ganga-Jamuna culture. This is an attempt to disturb communal harmony.'
Rajendra Kothari, director of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told IANS: 'It is a way to divert the attention of people from issues of progress. The next seven years, the government will spend time saying our name is not so and so. By changing the name, what will change economically for people? What is the net advantage?'
Even locals say it is a 'senseless' proposal.
'Please Mr. Chouhan, our city has a very beautiful name and so many people identify themselves as Bhopalis. Please do not take that away from us,' requests Vatsal, a local resident.