While the views of all sorts of people have been taken on the reallocation of Chandigrh and some tiny villages in the Punjab on Sunday, nobody has bothered to ask the citizens of Bombay their views on a much bigger event that is to take place on the same day-the renaming of Bombay as Mumbai. So the chief asked me to interview some citizens and find out.
I asked a typical citizen of Bombay, residing on the pavement outside J. J. Hospital: "Are you for or against the changing of the name of your city to Mumbai?"
"I am happy the Mathew Commission has finally come to register my views," the citizen said. "Well, there are several aspects to the issue, for one thing, if they change the name of Bombay, are they prepared to also change the Nasik. You know, you can't have one without the other."
"Of course," I said, "but do you think can get used to calling Bombay Mumbai after all these years?"
The citizen thought for a minute, then said: "We would like to cooperate with Mayor Bhujbal. Mean, whatever is in the larger interest of the state is in our interest. But that insists is that the entire Bhujbal accord on Mumbai should be implemented in toto. These things cannot be done piecemeal."
Correct," I said, "but would you not say that foreigners might e confused when they buy a ticket for Bombay and land in Mumbai? Could you tell me something on those lines."
The citizen shifted himself a little on the pavement, puffed on his cigarette, then said: "There is not just one line, there are several lines to be persued. I would have been happy it the January 26 deadline had not been fixed and more time had been given to your commission to gather the views of all those who would be affected by the change in name. Changing Bombay to Mumbai is not a small matter like chandigrah that they decide one day and the next day the president issues a promulgation."
"Then could I say that you are against the changing to Mumbai because Bombay is such a historical name?" I asked.
"I am not saying anything of the sort," the citizsen said. "I am considering whether we should follow Mr. Girilal Jain's advice and maintain the status quo till the implications of the Mumbai accord are studied in greater detail or should we go through the formality of the ceremony at the Gateway of India and then take up the issue of changing the names of the villages around Nasik."
So I came back to the office and told the chief: "I am afraid there is no story. The Mathew Commission has spoilt everybody, they can't say a simple yes or no."