Maharana Pratap, Not Mughal Ruler Akbar, Was 'Great': Adityanath

The UP chief minister said the Rajput king is more deserving of the title for displaying "exemplary courage in the face of the might of the Mughal army".

New Delhi: After last year’s controversial remark that Taj Mahal did not “reflect Indian culture” and excluding the Mughal monument from government’s booklet promoting tourism in the state, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath has now turned his aim towards the Mughal ruler Akbar.

According to a DNA report, the BJP leader refused to acknowledge Akbar as a ‘great’ emperor, saying the title should instead be given to Rajput king Maharana Pratap for displaying “exemplary courage in the face of the might of the Mughal army”.

Speaking at an event at IMRT Lucknow to mark Maharana Pratap Jayanti on June 14, Adityanath further said that it did not matter who won the Battle of Haldighati, but “who stood up to the most powerful army of those times.” According to the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, the Rajput king “displayed courage and valour,” which he says are “rare in history”.

While historians, in general, have held that the forces of Mughal emperor Akbar had defeated Maharana Pratap in the Battle of Haldighati in 1576, the historic battle became a much-debated matter last year after a Rajasthan University history book declared Maharana Pratap as the winner against Akbar.

The Wire had reported on how the book also mentioned Maharana Pratap as the only “national element” who didn’t sell himself to the Mughal emperor – similar to what the UP chief minister seems to also be claiming now.

“The battle continued for years in the hills of Aravali, and finally after winning back all his forts, it was proved that it is was not Akbar but Maharana Pratap who was great,” Adityanath said at Thursday’s event in Lucknow.

According to DNA, he further said: “A society misguided by distorted history can never lay a strong foundation for the future. Our glorious past will, however, act as a catalyst for our bright future. In this regard, people should draw inspiration from life and valour of Great Maharana Pratap”.
“He (Maharana) guarded the self-respect and honour of the country through his bravery and valour even in that phase of history,” Adityanath said.

This, however, is not the first attempt at casting doubts over the legacy of Mughals. After Rajasthan University’s declaration of Maharana Pratap as the winner in the 1576 battle, the Maharashtra education board last August reduced the Mughal emperor’s reign to just three lines.

The Wire had at the time reported that the board had revised its history textbooks for classes VII and IX, removing almost all traces of the rule of the Mughals and the monuments they built, instead focusing on the Maratha empire founded by Shivaji.

The students, who were earlier told that Akbar was a “liberal and tolerant administrator,” are now being taught that he “tried to bring India under a central authority” and faced opposition from the likes of Pratap.

Last October, another BJP leader, Sangeet Som, joined the Mughal-controversy bandwagon after he declared that Taj Mahal was built by “traitors” who “wanted to wipe out Hindus from Hindustan” and is a “blot on Indian culture.”