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War against India’s history

BhartiyaJanata Party (BJP) is at war with the country’s history. The party is the political face of Hindutwa forces who believe that India’s past has been wrongly recorded and presented. They are now in the process of re-writing the history in tune with their perception. A rash drive of vandalizing the statues of historical characters, which do not fit in their ideas of history, is part of this grand India project of Hindutwa forces. It all began with the demolition of Lenin’s statue at Tripura, where BJP edged communists out of power, last week. It is for the first time that a party with religious Hindu ideology won any election in the state. Historically Tripura has remained bastion of religious-free communists or secular Congress. One cannot turn eye from the fact that the Prime Minister NarendraModi has condemned the demolition of the statue but the way some BJP leaders, even after Modi’s condemnation, spoke about the incident lay bare the fact that there is a method in the madness. Modi had earlier spoken against cow vigilantes but they continued to attack and lynch Muslims on the fake charges of eating beef. The brash vandalizing of the Lenin’s statue was endorsed by the state’s topmost constitutional authority—the Governor Tathagatha Roy who is hardcoreHindutva agent. Had the prime minister been serious in censuring the attackers, governor could have been accountable in some way. Soon after Tripura incident, a BJP leader in Tamil Nadu H Raja, in his facebook post which he later withdrew, asked for demolition a Periyar statue in Tamil Nadu. A group of BJP supporters religiously obeyed their leader’s order and demolished the statue. Attacks on Dalit leader and architect of India’s constitution Dr Ambedkar’s statue in UP were also reported. In reaction communist activists defaced RSS founder Shyama Prasad Mukerjee’s statue in West Bengal. But one must give full credit to the BJP and its satellite groups for starting the evil. One should not lose sight of the fact that Sanghparivar is specially gifted with the art of dismantling historical monuments. They started with demolishing Babri Masjid in 1992. When Taliban dismantled Buddhist statues in Bamiyan in Afghanistan entire world rose in condemnation of Taliban action. India was no exception. Liberals as well obscurants equally shed tears on Bamiyan demolition. But when Hindu extremists led by BJP leaders attacked Babri Masjid and demolished the 500-year old structure, it was celebrated by voting BJP to power. It was only after demolition of Babri Masjid that BJP, for the first times, came to power in Delhi. The Hindutwa forces are now eying on other historical monuments like TajMahal, LalQilla, QutbMinar and dozens other historical monuments across India. A campaign has already begun to call TajMahal as “TejMandir”. But it is anybody’s guess that past cannot be changed or undone by any means. It always seeps into present, and it has bearing on future as well. Muslims have ruled India for more than 700 years. Their reminiscent are everywhere there. They have left indelible marks on India’s past. Imagine past India without LalQilla, QutbMinar or TajMahal for a while, a country without any history. No party or people can erase a history of 700 years by removing some historical monuments. The past cannot be wished away; neither can it be denied. Which is why destroying statues or historical monuments — which has been happening across the country — that are signifiers of a certain kind of past is an exercise in futility. It amounts to tokenism. Besides, it is the sort of tokenism we can do without.