by Sudheendra Kulkarni
via The Print
Falsification of history is the hallmark of all regimes and political parties that are dogmatic, intolerant of dissent, and coercive toward their opponents.
After Lenin’s death in the Soviet Union, Stalin systematically purged the Communist party of all those who were not his loyal supporters. Many of them, including very top leaders of the party, were killed. Moreover, even in those pre-photoshop years, the photographs of these leaders were erased from the official records of the party and the government.
Sadly, the BJP, for all its anti-communist rhetoric, seems to have some secret admiration for Stalin’s methods for rewriting history. This is evident from the needless, baseless and blatantly communal controversy its MP in Aligarh and some Hindu outfits have raked up by demanding the removal of a portrait of Muhammed Ali Jinnah from the Students’ Union Hall in the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
The portrait has been in there since 1938 (that is, before the Partition) when Jinnah was awarded life membership of AMU Students’ Union upon his visit to the university. Several other national leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, were similarly honoured. His, and other leaders’, visit to AMU is a part of the university’s history. Why should the university be forced to disown and distort its own history? How does AMU become ‘anti-national’ by keeping the portrait merely as a sign of its past?
Jinnah’s visit to AMU is a part of the university’s history. Why should the university be forced to disown and distort its own history? How does AMU become ‘anti-national’ by keeping the portrait merely as a sign of its past?
Indeed, Hindu communalists have been distorting history by projecting Jinnah as the sole villain of India’s division. Their own icons like Savarkar also advocated the two-nation theory. Dr S.P. Mookerjee, founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (predecessor of the BJP) insisted on Bengal’s division. Their simplistic re-writing of history is intended to project themselves as the only true Indian nationalists, and also to repeatedly question the patriotism of Indian Muslims. The insinuation is – “Look, these Muslims continue to have sympathy for Pakistan because they still have a portrait of the architect of Pakistan in ‘their’ university.”
By their twisted logic, they should demand a ban on the song ‘Saare jahan se acchha Hindostan hamara’. After all, its creator Allama Iqbal, toward the end of his life, strongly advocated a separate homeland for Muslims in areas where they were in a majority and is therefore regarded by Pakistan as its National Poet. The poetic irony is this– the India-hating Pakistani counterparts of our own Pakistan-hating Hindu communalists wanted the song to re-written as ‘Saare jahan se acchha Pakistan hamara’!
Falsifiers of history everywhere are the same.
Author is former aide to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, active in promoting India-Pakistan and India-China friendship