Politicians in Bihar are busy rediscovering the history of the state to turn icons into caste heroes.
The process which has gained momentum in the wake of coming Assembly elections, has turned Emperor Ashoka into a Kushwaha king, freedom fighter of 1857, Babu Kunwar Singh to a Thakur and famous Hindi poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar a Bhumihar.
No party in the state has any reservation in appropriating icons of Indian history for their political gains. The Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, an ally of the BJP, organised a rally of Kushwaha caste, and made Emperor Ashoka their clan leader. Leader of the party Upendra Kushwaha is minister of state in the Union cabinet and carved a separate political career after coming out of the Janata Dal (United).
Despite opposition from eminent historians, Communication Minister Ravishankar Prasad supported the attempt to declare Ashoka a Kushwaha king. Kushwaha, also known as Koeri, is a backward caste and has eight per cent vote share in the state. They have been allying with Kurmis to counter Yadavas in backward caste politics. Now they have decided to go alone.
Freedom fighter of the First War of Independence in 1857, Babu Kunwar Singh is being appropriated by Thakur leaders of the state. Recently, there was a rally to commemorate his sacrifice. The rally was organised by a JDU leader.
Hindi poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar is being appropriated by leaders from the Bhumihar community. The community is a forward landowning caste and is demanding better share in political power. The JDU has several leaders from the caste and they organised a conference in Delhi to celebrate the birth anniversary of S Krishna Singh, the first chief minister of Bihar. Singh belonged to the Bhumihar caste. Nitish Kumar had graced the occasion.
In response to that, senior BJP leader C P Thakur invoked poet Dinkar and organised a grand event in Delhi to commemorate his literary contribution. The programme was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. More programmes are being planned by the state BJP.
Written By: Anil Sinha, New Delhi, June 5, 2015