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BJP wants to consign Mughalsarai to history
Hindu Rashtra hinged on Sangh's cultural hijack
By Amulya Ganguli
It was only a question of time. After the renaming of Aurangzeb Road in Lutyens Delhi - although an Aurangzeb Lane has avoided detection from the Hindutva votaries - Mughalsarai was living on borrowed time. The railway station and town in Uttar Pradesh is doubly damned. First, it recalls the name of a group of invaders and, secondly, it uses one of their alien words - sarai - to denote a bhojanalaya or an eatery. There is no way, therefore, for it to survive in its present form at a time when the Bharat Mata ki Jai brigade is in power both at the Centre and in Lucknow.

Hence, the suggestion from the Yogi Adityanath government to the Union home ministry to rename it after the RSS ideologue, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, who is even less well known - outside the saffron brotherhood - than Savarkar and Golwalkar whose names were rarely heard when the BJP was a marginal power till the 1990s. However, in the 100th year of his birth, Upadhyay will have a widely known railway station named after him because, as a Union home ministry official helpfully explained, "the main objective seems to be to remove the word, Mughal, from the name". Incidentally, Mughalsarai is the place where Upadhyay died mysteriously in 1968.

Once the shuddhikaran or purifying process of the station and town is done, perhaps the Modi government can turn to some other names with Muslim connotations. One of them is at the heart of Lutyens Delhi - the Mughal Gardens in Rashtrapati Bhavan. When the new president with his RSS background moves into his new spacious residence, it will be odd for him to host receptions at a venue which is a reminder of the invaders. Considering that Golwalkar said that the framers of the Constitution made a mistake in equating the children of the soil with the children of the invaders in the matter of civil liberties, a section in the new dispensation may well think of giving a new name to the green expanse behind the Rashtrapati Bhavan - perhaps Golwalkar gardens.

There are more reminders of the aliens which continue to rile the Sangh Parivar such as Ahmedabad in Modi's former fiefdom of Gujarat. Named after Ahmed Shah in 1411, the town was formerly known as Karnavati, a name which is sought to be revived. The RSS has let it be known that it is in favour of the new name for Ahmedabad just as it is for Hyderabad, for which it has suggested Bhagyanagar after the goddess Bhatyalakshmi and, for Aurangabad, Sambhajinagar after Shivaji's eldest son. There is also a proposal to rename Allahabad as Prayag.

It is not that the RSS-BJP wants only Muslim names to be erased. Aurangzeb Road, for instance, was renamed A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Road after the former president because he was a nationalist despite being a Muslim, as Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma famously said. Similarly, the Dalhousie Road near Rashtrapati Bhavan has been named after Dara Shikoh, Aurangzeb's ill-fated elder brother, who was well versed in Hindu lore and translated the Upanishads into Persian.

However, the views expressed in his book, Majma-ul-Bahrain or The Confluence of the Two Seas, which saw a mystical and pluralistic affinity between Sufi and Vedantic traditions, can be regarded as the forerunner of the present-day secular "idea of India" which is anathema to the Hindutva lobby. But the saffronites may be willing to overlook this aspect of his ideology since the sole reason for Dara Shikoh's high status in the parivar is his enmity with Aurangzeb, the RSS-BJP's bête noire. An enemy of an enemy is a friend.

Modi has become confident enough at present not only to look forward to a second term in 2019, but also to celebrate the 75th year of India's independence in 2022. Since his P2G2 - pro-people, good governance - mantra envisages a new India, it will be in the fitness of things if the vestiges of the past are swept away and the country is reminded that the 1,200 years of "slavery" under the Muslims and the British were a bad dream. And what better way to achieve this objective than by rubbing out the names of invaders?

The task was begun by the Congress which did away with the names of Curzon, Connaught and others. But it didn't touch the Muslim names because of the party's dependence on minority votes and a reading of history which regarded the Muslim rulers as Indians rather than foreigners. The BJP has no such compulsions. As Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said, the BJP gives "proper sanctity" to the Muslims although it does not get their votes. Besides, the parivar sees the Muslim period in history as a time of continuing conflicts between the Hindus and the invaders. Hence, according to saffronites, Maharana Pratap should be called Great and not Akbar, and the road signs should not recall an inglorious past.

—(IPA Service)

News Updated at : Friday, July 14, 2017
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