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Home > 2023 > Fadnavis’s “Aurangzeb Ki Aulad” Narrative Violates Constitution, Otherises (...)

Mainstream, VOL 61 No 25 & 26 , June 17 & June 24, 2023

Fadnavis’s “Aurangzeb Ki Aulad” Narrative Violates Constitution, Otherises Minorities, and Endangers Communal Harmony | S N Sahu

Saturday 17 June 2023, by S N Sahu


Possibly no public figure occupying a high office as that of Deputy Chief Minister ever used the derogatory and offensive term “Aurangzeb ki Aulad,” “Progeny of Aurangzeb,” after an alleged social media post containing the image of Aurangzeb was met with a violent response from Hindutva groups against Muslims in Kolhapur in Maharashtra. The concerned Deputy Chief Minister is Devendra Fadnavis of Maharashtra and he used the humiliating term to point fingers at Muslims and spew venom and hatred against them on account of their faith. It certainly is violative of the oath of office he took, for among others, bearing true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India and to do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. Clearly his utterance "Aurangzeb ki Aulad" promoted ill-will against some sections of Indians in the name of their faith.

When Warkaris, the devotees of Vithoba, a form of Lord Krishna, were allegedly lathi charged on 11th June 2023 in Pandharpur in Maharashtra after they went ahead with their procession against instructions that only seventy five of them would be allowed, Fadnavis described it as a minor scuffle. However, Shiv Sena MP Sanjaya Raut tweeted, "Oh oh.. The pretensions of the Hindutva government were exposed.. The mask fell off. How was Aurangzeb behaving differently? Mughals have reincarnated in Maharashtra,"

Aurangzeb is Invoked by BJP to Intensify Polarisation Process

In the present atmosphere prevailing in BJP ruled States marked by polarisation and intense religious discord targeting Muslims, bitterness among people professing diverse faiths is being deliberately manufactured. It is tragic that BJP leaders controlling State apparatus and wielding power use divisive narratives by calling Muslims “Aurangzeb Ki Aulad”. Even Prime Minister Modi while inaugurating the Kashi-Viswanath corridor project in 2021 said in his speech that when Aurangzeb tried to kill our culture with radicalism, a Shivaji arose and effectively addressed that challenge. Then he asserted that India is now stepping out of that influence and “inferiority complex.” If it is juxtaposed with his oft-repeated formulation “Barah sau saal ki gulami”(The slave mentality of 1,200 years) of India, then obviously it points not only to British rule but also Moghul rule. The employment of Aurangzeb Ki Aulad is in continuation of that formulation the subtext of which to vilify the Muslims of present-day India.

Gandhi and Nehru’s Perspectives on Aurangzeb

During the freedom struggle Gandhi while flagging the role of Aurangzeb in displaying intolerance to the Hindus referred to his quality of sewing his won cap and used that example to say that if a Moghul emperror had time for weaving his own cap why should not the wealthy Muslims and others adopt spinning for making Kahdi clothes. In doing so he was not losing sight of the destruction of some portion of Kashi-Viswanath temple on his instructions and building a mosque there. He also famously wrote that barbaric act of Aurangzeb taught him not to imbibe the values of intolerance and rather cultivate the values of tolerance to deal with the intolerant in a non-violent manner. He traced the decline of the Moghul empire to the successors of Akbar including Aurangzeb who could not live up to the high benchmark set by his worthy predecessors who followed the policy of religious tolerance. He attributed the advent of British rule in India to the successors of Akabar who failed to uphold his legacy in ruling the Mogul empire. For instance, Mahatma Gandhi in his article “Living on the Past” published in the Navajivan on 27th June 1920 wrote, “Akbar’s successors lost the splendour of the Mogul Empire of his time, because they lost, one by one, Akbar’s qualities of character.” “Jehangir lost one” he claimed and added, “Shahjehan one more, Aurangzeb more still and his successors lost almost all”. “The result was,” he wrote, “...they lost the Empire to the British’ and “The Indian people in modern times have behaved like Akbar’s successors”.

Almost twenty years later in 1940s Jawaharlal Nehru in his book “Discovery of India” described Aurangzeb as “a bigot and an austere puritan” and blamed him for reducing himself to the position of a Muslim ruler by abandoning Akbar’s policies rooted in Indian ethos of acceptance and tolerance. He wrote, “The Mughal rulers were strong so long as they put themselves in line with the genius of the nation and tried to work for a common nationality and a synthesis of the various elements in the country”. “When Aurungzeb began,” Nehru remarked, “to oppose this movement and suppress it and to function more as a Moslem than an Indian ruler, the Mughal Empire began to break up”.

It is clear that the leadership of India during the freedom movement represented by Gandhi and Nehru squarely blamed Aurangzeb for creating conditions, by following a bigoted approach, for the advent of British rule in India but never used the obnoxious term "Aurangzeb ki Aullad" for dividing society and causing communal discord.

Advani’s Rath Yatra and Use of Babar Ki Aulad Narrative to Otherise Muslims

But unfortunately, now leaders of BJP occupying high posts in the constitutional structure of governance are employing the term “Aurangzeb ki Aulad” to refer to the Muslims living in India and holding them responsible for the present day problems faced by our country. We may recall the term “Babar ki Aulad” often used by BJP and Hindutva leaders during the Rath Yatra started by L K Advani from Somnath to Ayodhya to build Ram Temple in place of Babri Masjid located in Ayodhya. Aggressive usage of that term during that Yatra and at the time of demolition of Babri mosque on 6th December 19992 led to the communal riots in which disproportionately more Muslims became victims of hate speeches and thousands of them lost their lives and livelihood. The false narrative spun during that time vilified Muslims and it is still being employed more aggressively to polarise society and ruthlessly promote majoritarianism.

Larger Scale of Polarisation

The bloody events of that period are now being replayed by provocatively uttering “Aurangzeb ki Aulad” and thereby intimidating the Muslims who in the northern part of our country are now being subjected to calls by Hindutva leaders for their comprehensive social and economic boycott. The blood-curdling call for picking arms to commit genocide against them has been issued from Dharma Sansads (Religious Parliaments) organised by those leaders have not been condemned by Prime Minister Modi or any other leader who is part of the Union cabinet owing allegiance to the Constitution as part of the oath he or she has taken and has the mandate to govern the country. And now in Uttarakhand Muslims who are engaged in business, trade, and commerce are being coerced to shut down their shops, establishments and even residential units and leave the State. Even Muslim vendors are being threatened to flee the State and beat a hasty retreat from the business arena. These are done by Hindutva groups which pasted posters with cross marks on the doors of those business complexes owned by Muslims who are now falsely accused of engaging in Vyapar Jihad, holly war through business. The inaction of the State BJP Government and police against hate campaigns and criminal intimidation solely targeting Muslims there are evocative of the hate-filled utterance of “Aurangzeb ki Aulad” by Fadnavis in Maharashtra.

Ambedkar’s Worst Fears Coming True

The deafening silence of the Prime Minister in such situations is maintained and sustained with a calculated objective of accelerating the momentum of majoritarianism so as to mobilse people professing faith of the majority of population on anti-Muslim plank for securing their mandate which would be enough to secure power for BJP. It obviously means the exclusion of Muslims and other minorities and denying them any share in the power and political structure which will be entirely dominated and controlled by BJP and Hindutva forces. Such a process of exclusion of a section of our citizens in the name of faith is nothing but the fruition of the worst fear of Dr. B R Ambedkar who apprehended that Muslims and minorities would face social and economic boycott. He, therefore, in his Constitution for the United States of India drafted in 1945 provided for stringent measures against those who would socially and economically boycott minorities and prescribed that the future legislature of India should pass laws to effectively adopt deterring measures against such boycotts. Modi regime which often invokes Ambedkar and started celebrating Constitution Day is now presiding over his idea of New India where Ambedkar’s worst fears and apprehensions are being materialised by Hindutva forces by trampling upon the very Constitution.

Salvage India

Nehru sensitively understood that while Akabar ruled his empire by remaining tuned to the ethos of India Aurangzeb did by giving primacy to his Islamic identity and so created conditions for the takeover of India by Britishers. Such understanding of Nehru assumes significance for the present-day rulers of our country who instead of governing on the basis of our Constitution, representing the genius of our country, are employing divisive Hindutva which has nothing to do with the Constitution. To salvage India from such an existential crisis what we need is to rededicate ourselves to the values of our freedom struggle and constitutional vision of India.

(Author: S N Sahu served as Officer on Special Duty to President of India K R Narayanan)

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