BJP's Atul Shah (left) and Raj Purohit. Pic/Suresh Karkera
BJP MLA Raj Purohit says he is all set to do whatever it takes - writing letters, holding dharnas outside different offices - to 'start and finally complete the process' of ensuring that the Gateway of India is re-christened 'BharatDwaar'. Eye rolls, cynical scoffs and anger do not deter Purohit. Here, the SoBo MLA talks about why the latest quest to rename Gateway of India is not a publicity stunt.
When did you start thinking about pushing for Gateway of India to be renamed BharatDwaar?
I cannot tell you exactly when, but it has been at the back of my mind for a few months now. I spoke about it to my inner circle - my friends now keep telling me, jaldi karo, jaldi karo (hurry up).
You have simply made a statement; you need to have an action plan to back it up...
I have not simply made a statement. I do have a plan. I will now write a letter to the CM Devendra Fadnavis, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, the Mumbai Police, the Port Trust authorities. Changing the name of a monument is a process: it begins with a thought, then there is a procedure to be followed. I am willing to go through all that - process, procedure and even protests to see this through.
Why have you suddenly felt that the name of Gateway of India should be changed?
It may seem sudden to you, but the Gateway of India, just the name, does not signify Indian pride; instead, it reminds one of a British King and the Empire. After 70 years of Independence, why have this name, which reminds us of slavery and atrocities that we had to bear? We have removed statues of so many British heroes that dotted the country. Today, these statues are lying in godowns.
The Gateway of India. Pic/Suresh Karkera
There are so many who have criticised this proposal...
Let them criticise it. We are a democracy and we welcome contradictory views. Those who do not want the name changed have a slave mentality. Bombay changed to Mumbai, Malabar became Walkeshwar, and so Gateway of India can also become BharatDwaar.
People say politicians should do work instead of focusing on cosmetic changes like renaming
I do a lot of work. I work for housing issues, particularly tenants' rights. I am working for the redevelopment of Machimaar Colony in Colaba. Soon, the most beautiful toilet block is to be inaugurated there. I am working to beautify SK Patil Udyan and the BPT Garden in Colaba. I am one of the most vocal speakers in the Assembly. I have also done numerous tree plantation drives. So, how can anybody say I do not work?
Pressing for name change is the surest way to get publicity.
Removing a black spot is asking for publicity? Bombay was changed to Mumbai, did anybody accuse those asking for that change of being publicity hounds?
You cannot deny that the British were a part of our history. Why change history?
I am not changing history, only removing a black spot. Those who say this is changing history are talking nonsense. This is only the end of ghulaami. I am an RSS and a BJP man; I love my country and culture. Go towards the Gateway. What do you see? On one side, Shivaji Maharaj; the other, Swami Vivekanand, and the third - a symbol of slavery. How does it make you feel? It should be BharatDwaar.
The Gateway of India was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai. The foundation stone was laid on March 31, 1913, by the governor of Bombay, Sir George Sydenham Clarke, with the final design of George Wittet sanctioned on March 31, 1914. The gateway was built from yellow basalt and concrete. The foundations were completed in 1920, and construction was finished in 1924. The gateway was inaugurated on December 4, 1924, by the Viceroy of India, Rufus Isaacs, the Earl of Reading.
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