Our esteemed politicians have done it again!
Unhappy with the Muslim referece in the name of one of the most historical railway stations in India that held a special place in the heart of many travelers on the Howrah-Delhi line, the Narendra Modi government, at the behest of one of the nation's most revered and well-respected historian Dr. Yogi Adityanath, who also moonlights as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, on June 4, 2018 issued an order to change the name of Mughalsarai railway station to Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Junction.
As we know, Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya (1916-1968) was a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh 'pracharak' (literal translation - propagandist) and also the co-founder of Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the grandfather of the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He died under mysterious condition when his body was found lying beside a railway track at, you guessed it, Mughalsarai railway junction.
Reports at the time suggested Upadhyaya was pushed from the train by two robbers when an attempt to snatch his belongings went awry. Days later, two men were arrested but later acquitted in the lack of sufficient evidence.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath may not know one end of an economic or history book from the other but he sure knows how to appease radical Hindu nationalists and how to offend the minorities. That has been his schtick all his life. Like his predecessors in UP and his counterparts in Bihar, he remains woefully incapable of coming up with a strong development plan to attract investors, improving healthcare and education, or raising the standard of living of the farmers and other citizens of the state.
So, like our very own avatar of Lord Ram, Buddha, Chanakya, and Gandhi all blended into one otherwise known as Nitish Kumar, our beloved leaders engage in stunts like renaming railway stations and other structures and monuments, hunting for those who are beef-eaters, love jihad, Ghar Wapasi, prohibition, dictating what to wear and not wear and what to celebrate and not celebrate.
Ask them if any new hospital or educational institute of world standard has recently come up in the state, these 'gyani' leaders will point you to billions of inaugurations they have done during their regime to improve the lives of the people. Ask them to give a specific date when a proposed hospital would become a reality, they will invariably give you a date that is after the next election, whenever that may be.
Very convenient, ain't it?
Wonder why Mughalsarai was not named after Lal Bahadur Shastri, India's second Prime Minister who was born in Mughalsarai and, like Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, also died under mysterious condition. Also, while I am still wondering, when will Taj Mahal rechristened as, um, say, Godse Bhawan? Or, Fatehpur Sikri be renamed as Dronacharyapuri? Or, Allahabad be renamed as Madan Mohan Malivya Nagar?
Opened in 1883, Mughalsarai station, now considered to be in the top-ten busiest railway stations in the country, was set up along the Grand Trunk Road by the East India Company to link Howrah in West Bengal to Delhi, the seat of power, by rail. This is where travelers during the Mughal period used to camp overnight to take a break from their journey thus earning it the name of Mughal and Sarai (Inn).
By changing its name, the UP government, and by extension, the BJP, has once again proven that its agenda, first and foremost, is to spread Hindutva, and everything else comes second when it should be just the other way round.
And before I am taken to the woodshed for being a 'bleeding-heart liberal', I assure you I am a BJP supporter given the fact that there is no better alternative in India so I am sort of stuck with the saffron party. However, unlike most 'bhakts', I am just not into fundamentalism, or 'Talibanism' - Hindu or Muslim!