By Pawan Khera
The BJP attempted to do in Aligarh Muslim University what it is best at doing – fanning communal trouble by culling out from History selective instances to further its polarizing cause.
Aligarh Muslim University Campus
Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh is the latest victim of right wing opportunism. In a clever political move, the ABVP (students’ wing of the BJP) demanded to celebrate the birthday of the Jat ruler in AMU. The stated reason being that Raja Mahendra Pratap had donated land to the Aligarh Muslim University and was therefore one of the founders of the institution.
Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh was the maverick Jat ruler of Mursan, Aligarh. He traveled to Germany to meet Kaiser Wilhelm II. He lobbied with Germany, Turkey, Egypt and Japan to end the British rule. He then established the first provisional Government of India in Kabul. His Marxist revolutionary zeal brought him close to Lenin. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1932. In 1957, as an independent candidate Raja Mahendra Pratap defeated Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the Jan Sangh from the Mathura Lok Sabha seat. Vajpayee lost his deposit in this election.
BJP’s claim that the Raja donated the land to set up the University is a white lie. The Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College (became Aligarh Muslim University in 1920) was established in 1876 – 10 years before the birth of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh. An alumnus of the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College, the Raja leased a 3 acre piece of land (Tikonia Park) to the AMU in 1929 – 53 years after the institution was established.
Attempts by the Sangh Pariwar to appropriate heroes are beginning to look ridiculous. Raja Mahendra Pratap is as far from the Sangh ideology as is Narendra Modi from bringing back black money allegedly stashed in foreign banks.
If it were an innocent political move to appropriate a hero, it could still have been dismissed as the Sangh Pariwar desperately needs to borrow heroes, considering the only martyr the right wing can boast of is Nathuram Godse. In the backdrop of post-Muzaffarnagar polarization of Jats and Muslims in Western Uttar Pradesh, the demand to celebrate the birthday of Raja Mahendra Pratap in AMU is far more sinister and can deal a fatal blow to peaceful coexistence of the two communities in the region. The outcry on social media and the firm stand taken by the Vice Chancellor resulted in a climb down by BJP, which has agreed to a seminar on the contribution of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh to mark his birthday on December 1. The issue leaves us with uncomfortable questions about the agenda of the right wing in India. It also hurls some questions for the right wing to answer.
Muslim rulers donated land for Janki Ghat temple in the disputed premises of the Babri Masjid. Hanuman Garhi was built by Muslim rulers. Will the Sangh Pariwar consider celebrating their birthdays too?
The Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan donated 10 Lakhs for the Banaras Hindu University and 5 Lakhs for the Aligarh Muslim University. He also donated 54 acre land to Baba Saheb Ambedkar to set up the Milind Education Society. Would the BJP consider celebrating his birthday in Banaras Hindu University?