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BJP has a different take… On history, science, cows!

Long is the list of BJP leaders who believe some of the greatest modern achievements existed in the times of the Mahabharata. Less surprising but also far more frequent is evidence of the BJP’s incredible faith in the Indian cow and its many products.
My office keeps a track of some of the outlandish things said by leaders of the BJP. I am not sure how it started, and I doubt if we follow other parties equally assiduously. But the BJP collection, if I can use that term, is quite a hoard. It includes the offensive and the ludicrous, it ranges from the Prime Minister to the least known MLA, and it covers subjects as varied as religion, mythology, history, couture, cuisine, practically everything to do with cows and, of course, sex. On a slow day it can be quite fun to browse.
Well, that’s what I did over the recent holidays and I noticed a few intriguing patterns. Perhaps the most striking is that the BJP has a very poor grasp of history. For instance, Tirath Singh Rawat, the new chief minister of Uttarakhand, believes “America enslaved India for 200 years”. His counterpart in Tripura, Biplab Kumar Deb, is convinced that Rabindranath Tagore returned his Nobel Prize to protest the British. But what really surprised me is the number of times the Prime Minister is confused by the past.
Alexander’s army, he once said, conquered the entire world but was defeated by the Biharis. On another occasion he relocated Taxila to somewhere not far from Patna. On a third, he said when he thinks of the Gupta dynasty, he remembers Chandragupta. Of course, at the time he was wooing the voters of Bihar so perhaps this was intended as flattery.
But what do you make of this? In 2018 he claimed Kabir, Guru Nanak and Baba Gorakhnath “sat together and discussed spirituality”. It’s an interesting idea but as impossible as the claim Jesus and Muhammad had a fireside chat or as inaccurate as the belief Buddha and Zarathustra were buddies.
However, my favourite is a bloomer about the man many consider the Prime Minister’s party’s revered founder. This is what Mr Modi told a gathering in Gujarat in 2013: “Syama Prasad Mookerjee was a revolutionary. He died in 1930 in London.” I would call that a three-in-one. Mookerjee was not a revolutionary. He was a member of Jawaharlal Nehru’s first Cabinet. Before that he was president of the Hindu Mahasabha. Earlier, he was a lawyer and academic. He didn’t die in 1930 but 1953. It wasn’t in London but in a jail in Jammu and Kashmir. And, of course, he founded the Bharatiya Jan Sangh.
A second theme in the file is the BJP’s questioning of science alongside its conviction that most modern achievements occurred centuries or even millennia earlier. When he was junior minister for human resources development — which, incidentally, includes education — Satyapal Singh said Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was “scientifically wrong”. Since no one had seen “an ape turning into a man”, he said, that was proof dear Charles had got things mixed up. Our textbooks, he concluded, need to be changed.

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