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Modi The Mughal And Sisodia The Rajput Warrior: AAP Has A New Tale To Tell

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By Sidharth Mishra

With the coming of the Monsoon in 2011, dawned in Delhi along with the rains the ‘India Against Corruption’ movement led by Anna Hazare. The anti-corruption crusader from Ralegaon Siddhi in Maharashtra sat on a fast at the Ramlila Ground and held the centrestage in the national politics for the next fortnight. During the protest, the activists’ creativity was at its best and one clearly recalls a poster which had pictures of Anna, ArvindKejriwal and KiranBedi anointed as Gandhi, Bhagat Singh and Jhansi’s queen Lakshmi Bai; all in the same frame.

Ideologically the three historical figures do not make to one frame. But such mass movements are like that when people with different ideological leanings come together for a common cause. Some months later on a television debate, when the movement converted into a political outfit – the AamAdmi Party (AAP), its then main ideologue YogendraYadav was asked about the ideological moorings of the organization.

He had said that they believed in extracting the best from every ideology. It did not happen that way and soon Yadav along with several similar thinking leaders of the party were shown the door. The party, nevertheless, from day one showed the unfailing tendencies of adapting to the time-testing tactics of Indian politics, thus an Ashutosh became Ashutosh Gupta while contesting from the ChandniChowkLokSabhaseat in 2014 and now Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia sees himself in the shoes of MaharanaPratap taking on the mighty Mughals.

Earlier this week, the AAP leader hit out at the centre while speaking at the birth anniversary of MaharanaPratap, the medieval ruler of Mewar fiefdom,  saying that the Rajput king’s battle against the Mughal Empire was like that of his government’s with the NarendraModi government. This is interesting as Modi’s own ideological fellow-travellers are busy burning midnight oil to erase the trace of anything Mughal from the topography of the national capital, which principally is a Sultanate-Mughal city.

“A cruel ruler in Delhi used to ask him (MaharanaPratap) to leave. The fight is same. A number of incidents happening now remind me of the Mughal rule,” Sisodia saidat the unveiling of a statue of the Rajput king at ISBT, Kashmere Gate. That the Delhi’s Deputy CM decided to celebrate Pratap’s birthday, which is an essential part of RashtriyaSwayamsewakSangh’s cultural calendar, makes clear that Sisodia has no qualms about fishing in the cesspool of caste politics.

He was reported as saying, “Some people in the Centre have the same arrogance as the Mughals did. They will not allow the common man to work… the same fight continues today.”

Delhi leader’s love for the Rajput king emanates from the fact that MaharanaPratap belonged to the Sisodia dynasty and is much revered in the community. In fact Delhi deputy CM’s village in neigbouring Ghaziabad district has a huge MaharanaPratap statue at Dhaulanastanding tall in the middle of the green agricultural fields. No wonder the last two LokSabha members from Ghaziabad – Rajnath Singh and General VK Singh,have been Rajputs and both have played the caste-cards to the hilt during their respective polls.

Sisodia’s assembly constituency Mandawali in East Delhi, which borders Ghaziabad has a huge migrant presence from the western UP district. Thus one can clearly see the need to revive the umbilical chordwhich connects Sisodiawith MaharanaPratap’s clan.

Politics of caste has been integral to the Indian democratic edifice’s vibrant functioning but the bigger question is would Sisodia also endorse of the agenda to replace Akbar as victor of Haldighati with the name of the ruler of Mewar. Moreover calling Akbar cruel, whom the non-Sangh historians consider to be a secular and fair leader, could make Sisodia suspect in the eyes of his party supporters.

The AAP which came to power on a very progressive agenda mainly focusing on fighting corruption in public life has, as mentioned earlier, taken to all the vices of politics and failed to rub onto the system any of its original ideals; in fact it never made any serious attempt at doing it. Those who wanted to implement these ideals were purged out.

People coming from the minority communities especially the Muslims constitute about 18 percent of Delhi’s electorate. The Muslims in the city have so far been steadfast in their support to the AAP government, much to the chagrin of the local Congress leadership. They have always applauded Kejriwal government’s ‘struggle’ with the Modi dispensation.

However, will the narrative of Delhi government being a replica of Mewar fiduciary and NarendraModi a modern day Mughal monarch be palatable to the minorities especially when the fringe elements from the right wing went onto ‘rename’ Akbar Road as MaharanaPratap Road on the same day. Some of the observers of the political behaviour of city’s minorities are of the opinion that they still see ArvindKejriwal as the most potent warrior against the Modi regime.

The minorities in the city are yet to realize that their support for the AAP adds to the woes of the Congress and comfort of the BJP rather than making the latter uncomfortable. However, an AAP leader espousing a purely Sangh agenda like celebrating MaharanaPratap’s anniversary as Hindu icon has the potential to give the game away. A victory for AAP in the name of MaharanaPratap on the Mandawali seat may end up costing the party dear pan-Delhi, especially on the minority dominated seats.

(First Published in News18.com)

 

 

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