When the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath decided to inaugurate the statue of 9th-century king Mihir Bhoj at Dadri near Greater Noida, the Gujjar community went into an overdrive to praise and publicise it. And the reason was the nameplate at the bottom of the statue which read, “Gurjar Pratihar Samrat Mihir Bhoj”.
Since the statue was to be inaugurated at Mihir Bhoj PG College, run by a society of Gujjars, the community did everything to make it a grand celebration. Local BJP leaders believed that the move was a masterstroke as it would counter the farmers’ anger against the party and consolidate Gujjar’s vote in their favour.
However, the news of the inauguration caused a furore among the Rajput community as they claim, backed by a plethora of historical evidence, Mihir Bhoj as a Rajput king. The two communities are at odds with each other on the said issue for the past few years.
They raised a stiff objection and held that the inauguration would be seen as an endorsement of Mihir Bhoj as a Gujjar king by Yogi.
No one knew what conspired in between but when the CM came to inaugurate the statue on September 22 at around 12 in the morning, the Gurjar word was removed from the nameplate and it read, “Pratihar Samrat Mihir Bhoj”.
Gujjars believe that it was done on the behest of the BJP leaders because they don’t want to annoy the numerically far superior Rajput community. Besides, CM didn’t even mention Mihir Bhoj as Gurjar or Kshatriya king in his speech.
“Since the day nameplate was placed till the evening of September 21, it read “Gurjar Pratihar Samrat Mihir Bhoj”. The whole college was under strict police security from September 21 onwards due to the CM’s function and it was really impossible for any unauthorised person to go there. Then who did blacken the word “Gurjar” and make them invisible from the nameplate? We all know the answer,” Narendra Gurjar, Founder of Akhil Bhartiya Veer Gurjar Mahasabha, said.
He added, “We have all historical evidence to support our claim that Mihir Bhoj was a Gujjar Emperor.”
On the other hand, the Rajput community has its own grudge against the BJP and the CM. Mahendra Singh Tanwar, National President, Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Mahasabha says that the Rajputs are already very upset with BJP due to their support in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand to the elements that are distorting the history of the Rajput community and tampering with its identity.
“We will not tolerate this insult and go to any extent to protect our history and identity. The BJP must know that it has annoyed its core vote bank,” Tanwar said.
Another Rajput organisation, Kshatriya Parishad, has also voiced its anger.
“The conscious and wanton perversion of the Kshatriya history with tacit, nay explicit endorsement of BJP and its affiliates is categorically and unambiguously unacceptable to the entire Rajput community,” Kunwar Sanjeev Singh, Convener, Kshatriya Parishad said.
He added, “The wilful falsification of the history of the great Kshatriya emperor Mihir Bhoj Pratihar by this supremely guileful and deceptive craftiness at display is in addition to being disingenuous, also a betrayal of the trust of millions of Rajputs across the country who had reposed their faith in the party.”
Many Rajput leaders and community activists also say that votes of over 10 per cent Rajput population of UP should matter a lot not only for the upcoming UP assembly election but also for the next Lok Sabha election.
They are of the view that the Rajput community’s votes are much bigger than Gujjar votes, and will play a deciding role for the election results in a large number of seats, unlike much smaller (less than 1%) Gujjars votes, which are confined to a very few constituencies near Noida.
It’s also a deep-seated feeling in the Rajput community that BJP has ignored a supportive community and this so-called "masterstroke” by BJP leadership was unwarranted and unnecessary and will have an electoral implication if the community’s outrage is not managed deftly and proactively.
Sydney-based Dr Yadu Singh, a political and Rajput community activist, says that the CM’s visit to Dadri, especially Samrat Mihir Bhoj Pratihar matter, has also created a major rift between segments of Hindus (Rajputs and Gujjars), which is unwanted and should have been avoided.
“As if the controversy created by CM’s visit to Dadri wasn’t enough, political leaders from the opposition decided to jump into the controversy for votes and tried to take sides without full appreciation of the history. This was not needed and should have been avoided not only because it is a bad policy, but also because of the risk of pushing away the potential voters to their parties,” Dr Singh said.
He added, “Political parties and politicians should show responsibility and avoid doing anything which creates further divisions among various segments of the Indian community.”
Dr Singh is of the view that India’s greats belong to every Indian and every citizen should take pride in their works and achievements, irrespective of their caste affiliation.
“Certainly, there is no need to change or appropriate their ancestry or history. If I have the ears of the politicians and their advisors, I will advise them to use their good offices in reaching out to the relevant community stakeholders and counsel them to listen to the historical facts and settle the unnecessary controversy,” Dr Singh said.
He also believes that all political parties should reach out to the Rajput community, explaining their policies and seeking their votes, instead of imagining that Rajputs are aligned to any specific political party now.
“Rajputs are the swing voters now and are open to the reaching out by every political party,” he said.