A frequently recurring theme in the speeches by BJP and other Sangh Parivar leaders is condemnation of the long Mughal rule in the sub-continent. Many see it as a code word for denouncing the Muslim minority in the country. So it should have caused no surprise when first Yogi Adityanath, UP chief minister, in June and now a known Muslim-baiter and BJP MLA in UP, Sangeet Som, declared that the world famous Taj Mahal does not represent ‘Indian culture’ because it was built by a Mughal ruler who, according to the BJP leader- scholar of Indian ‘history’, had sent his father to prison.
That kind of astonishing ignorance of history would put even a junior school student to shame because he or she would know that the great 17th century monument to love in white marble was built by Emperor Shahjahan who was actually imprisoned by his son. But instead of invoking mirth, Som’s comment needs to be viewed with some concern.
The Taj is one of the few tourist spots in UP popular with both domestic and international tourists. The UP government no longer lists the Taj in its tourism booklet. It must be the only case in the world where a monument, one of the wonders of the world, has gone out of favour of the ruling party because it’s coloured views.
Expectedly, Som, an accused in the Muzaffarnagar communal riots in 2013 that had led to 60 deaths, has invited many angry as well as sarcastic comments from those whom the Sangh Parivar loves to hate. Given the manifestation of his hate for all things Islamic, including world famous monuments built by them in India, it looks quite natural to ask Som if he would like to see his idol, Narendra Modi, address the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi on the next Independence Day?
After all, the Red Fort in Delhi (and the one in Agra) was also built by the Mughals. If the Taj Mahal is an eyesore, Red Fort too must be viewed likewise. The fact once at the site of the Taj Mahal. The fetish for renaming everything that betrays Muslim origin is being taken to extreme limits by the Sangh Parivar members. It is part of an insidious design to erase the pre-Modi era altogether because much of it was dominated by the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family. Nothing riles Modi and his party more than a mere mention of the Congress and its leaders—barring, of course, those the BJP has appropriated.
The BJP subjects itself to ridicule when it dismisses statements by the likes of Som as ‘personal views’ of an individual that do not coincide with the party’s. How many times have BJP leaders expressed ‘personal views’ and got away without any admonition? Interestingly, we do not hear the party dismissing those in their ranks who make controversial remarks as belonging to the ‘fringe elements’. When ministers, members of parliament and state legislators make ‘controversial’ remarks, almost always denigrating the minority community, and unabashedly foul mouth a community they cannot be clubbed with ‘fringe elements’.
Sangeet Som was emphatic that if the Taj Mahal had found mention in history books his government would rewrite history books to dispel ‘falsehood’ and present the ‘truth’. Actually, that was only a reminder of a process that has already been initiated in BJP-ruled states in the Hindi belt. In Haryana, one of the advisers of the chief minister is Dinanath Batra who is not only a minority basher but wants works of Rabindra Nath Tagore and Urdu words taken out of all text books. There are many Dinanath Batra types in the Sangh Parivar who are dying to have the history books rewritten to represent ‘true’ Indian culture, one that will make us reject the regimes of Medieval India as a dark period while enlightening our minds with all the great warriors of the past who have found little or no mention in history books.
It is considered irrelevant that the deeds and achievements of many of the men and women the likes of Dinanath Batra and Sangeet Som want listed in rewritten history books are yet to receive recognition from the outside world. Significant works in history need to be supported by evidence which is accepted by egg-heads outside the confines of our country. Ditto for science: ancient India’s scientific achievements may fill our chest with pride but unless the rest of the world acknowledges them they will impress no one but a section of Indians. Syndicate Features