The Haldi Ghati battle fought in 1576 between Akbar and Maharana Pratap, a stuff of folklore, continues to be a reference point in Rajasthan politics.
After generating enough controversy in school and college textbooks and academic circles about who indeed won the battle, it has now reached the Rajasthan assembly as a benchmark of success in dealing with a political siege.
The BJP has always harked that Maharana Pratap won the battle, while the Congress deftly allowed it be referred to as an ‘inconclusive’ battle. The BJP had even rewritten the textbooks, doctored to propagate its viewpoint, and declared him an outright winner.
The Congress had revised the books yet again, which were scripted as per its perception of history.
But now, with the Congress equating CM Ashok Gehlot’s win against the BJP -- which had tried it’s best to topple his government -- to the victory of the erstwhile Mewar kingdom – of which Pratap was the king – the political Pandora’s box has opened yet again.
More important, it raises the eternally tricky question - Who won the battle of Haldi Ghati? Also, if Gehlot has scored a win that can be likened to Akbar’s designs being scuttled by Mewar, is it ready to revise its ambivalent stand on the victor in history books?
Parliamentary Affairs minister Shanti Dhariwal had, during his speech in the Assembly on Friday, said, “The BJP has been toppling elected governments in Goa, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. But, in Rajasthan, chief minister Gehlot has stopped them in their tracks. This is exactly what happened to Akbar who had set out on a conquering spree and annexed Surat, Bihar, Cooch Bihar and Vidarbha. But when he arrived at the doorsteps of Rajasthan, Mewar gave him a reply just like Gehlot gave one to the BJP dispensation at the Centre.”
Dhariwal’s statement is at variance with the Congress viewpoint, because it had, after wresting power in 2018, once again altered the textbooks. The books dubbed the battle of Haldi Ghati as ‘inconclusive’ and added by way of explanation that Maharana Pratap had lacked control, moderation and was impatient.
The most interesting aspect was that the BJP – the party that had appropriated Pratap to wean away Rajput votes - missed the Maharana reference in Dhariwal’s speech altogether. While its leaders were raising the decibel level in their spirited defence of PM Modi and Amit Shah, they did not realise that they had jettisoned their political agenda articulated through doctored textbooks.
So, the moot question remains. Did Pratap win or lose in the battle of Haldi Ghati? And is Friday’s vote of confidence a win or an inconclusive issue for Gehlot – just like the battle of Haldi Ghati