By Arré Bench Sep. 15, 2020
The Mughals no doubt had political rivals during the course of their rule. But they must be the only medieval dynasty to have political opponents in the 21st century. An upcoming Mughal museum in Agra will now be named after Chhatrapati Shivaji, the Maratha king who fought against Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
The Mughals of India are no different from any other medieval dynasty in how they had many political rivals during the course of their rule. One thing that does distinguish the Mughals from other medieval dynasties though is that they are the only one that still has political opponents in the 21st century. The biggest proponent of the anti-Mughal narrative in contemporary India has to be Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who just announced that he will be renaming an upcoming Mughal museum in Agra after Chhatrapati Shivaji, the Maratha king who fought against Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, because the Mughals are persona non grata in the current era.
'How can Mughals be our heroes' asks Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, decides to name upcoming 'Mughal Museum' in Agra after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) September 14, 2020
Construction of the Mughal Museum, or rather Shivaji Museum as it will now be called, was begun under Adityanath’s predecessor, the Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav. After a meeting to review development works in Agra division, a government spokesperson told the media, “Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced to name the under-construction Mughal Museum in Agra after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He made it clear that his government always nurtured the nationalist ideology and anything which smacks of subservient mentality will be done away with.”
UP Govt has taken decision to rename the Mughal Museum to Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum.
As descendant of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, l thank Honorable CM Shri Yogi Adityanath on behalf of people of Maharashtra.@narendramodi @myogiadityanath
— Sambhaji Chhatrapati (@YuvrajSambhaji) September 15, 2020
In many ways, the Mughals compete with India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for the title of historical figures who are blamed for modern problems. The idea that Mughals were foreign invaders has taken root in the public’s mind, despite the fact that they settled in India for generations, and after centuries of assimilation, intermarriage, and coexistence, were as native as any other inhabitants of the subcontinent. So, because of this misconception, Mughals are seen as outsiders, and an easy punching bag to score some patriotic points.
‘Rename Agra’s Mughal Museum after Shivaji’: Yogi Adityanath
— Ali Khan Mahmudabad (@Mahmudabad) September 14, 2020
Of course, the UP government’s decision has also invited criticism. Notable historians have pointed out how attacking the Mughals for their rule hundreds of years ago is merely a smokescreen to obscure current inadequacies in governance. But the populist nature of the move highlights how the Mughals have become public enemy number one, long after they have faded from power.