Why is the BJP targeting the Mughals?

The BJP’s election narratives are largely woven around hatred of an imaginary “other’’. This other in BJP’s case is the Muslim most of the times

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Zafar Agha

Why are the great Mughals the whipping boy for the BJP and the Sangh? It was the Mughal dynasty founder Babur in the early 1990s when the Babri mosque-ram Mandir controversy was at its peak. In came Aurangzeb soon after Narendra Modi took charge as Prime Minister in 2012. And, now Shahjahan with his monumental monument Taj Mahal is targeted by the BJP.

After all, Mughals not just ruled India for over 200 years. They also enriched India greatly and transformed it into a super power in their times. India’s GDP during Akbar’s reign was 27 per cent as pointed out by Shashi Tharoor in his recent book. Akbar was also said to be the richest man of his times. Even when the British took over India from the Mughals, Indian GDP at 18 per cent was higher than the Britain in 1857.

So, why this cacophony against the Mughals; why twist facts and peddle fiction about a dynasty that contributed so much to the rise of India in medieval times?

Is there a method in this madness? Or, is it sheer hatred against “foreign rulers”? If it was genuine dislike for the alleged foreign rule, there could have been sharp attack against the British Raj too. But one does not recall the Sangh parivar pouring venom against the brutal British rule of over 100 years when Indian were truly colonised in its worst form. So, why target Mughals alone?

Political parties do not act in a huff. They plan and strategise their moves to achieve certain political gain. The aim largely is winning elections in a democratic setup. The BJP’s election narratives are largely woven around hatred of an imaginary “other’’. This other in the BJP’s case is the Muslim most of the times. He is always projected as the aggressor and repressive brute who needs to be taken care of. The purpose is to scare the majority community to create a Hindu vote bank over and above caste divide. Once they are sacred, there appears a Hindu saviour who could be an Advani or a Modi as Hindu ang rakhshak.

The success of this game plan depends on a Babri mosque or a Godhra type of train burning tragedy where Indian Muslims could easily be transformed into Babur ki santan or when Modi’s “action-reaction” theory could be peddled to justify the Gujarat massacre of 2002. It scares Hindus who then look up to a saviour like Modi and vote for him elections for their protection against the Muslims.

Modi’s electoral successes are largely based on a Muslim factor. It could be Godhra or something else. If it is not a genuine existing threat, one would have to be dug up from the history. The Mughals fit this bill well. After all, they ruled over India for more than 200 years. They exploited Indian masses like any ruler of their times. They are, therefore, easily projected as enemy of the Hindus. Modern day Muslims are being touted as Mughal santans.

But there is a catch in this game plan this time. Muslims used to be easily provoked and their mullah led conservative leadership used to easily take to streets against the so-called ‘Hindu provocation’. Remember those mega Muslim rallies ‘’to defend Babri mosque’’ under the Babri Masjid Action Committee leadership? Those rallies were not just emotive but often raised religious slogans like Allah Akbar. It provokes Hindu backlash which the BJP weaves into a Hindu vote bank.

But the visible Muslim aggression with a conservative leadership is an integral part for the success of this strategy. The problem this time is that the Muslims are acting wisely and keeping quiet to BJP’s provocations. There have been many attempts to provoke Muslims to take to streets. From mob lynching to banning slaughter houses and now posing Babri mosque like threat to Taj Mahal are calculated moves to enrage Muslims to come to streets. Once Muslims are out, Hindus could be mobilised into delivering a response.

Somehow it is not happening so far. So, there is desperation. Engineering another Gujarat could boomerang with bad publicity. So, Mughals have turned into the whipping boy for the BJP. The tone could become more shrill as the Gujarat and Himachal Assembly elections draw closer. The Modi model of development is dented. Modi is now left only with hate politics tactics. It could be anything from Shahjahan to Tipu Sultan to provoke a Hindu backlash which seems to be not building up so far.

The best course for the Muslims is to lie low and let the worst pass off while Hindu liberals are fighting the battle of ideas on the ground.

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