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After university in a Jat reformer’s name, Yogi to unveil ‘Gurjar’ icon Mihira Bhoja’s statue

The UP CM will unveil a 15-foot statue of the 9th century king on the campus of Mihir Bhoj PG College in Dadri, in what is being seen as a political move ahead of polls.

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Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will unveil a 15-foot statue of a ninth century king, Mihira Bhoja, on the campus of a college in Dadri during his visit to Gautam Buddha Nagar Wednesday.

The Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty king is seen as an icon of the Gurjar community, which is considered the second most influential caste in UP after Jats. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be eyeing Gurjar votes with the latest move. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of a state university in Aligarh in the name of a Jat freedom fighter and social reformer, Raja Mahendra Pratap.

According to a BJP state unit functionary, “Jats’ resentment is a big issue for western UP. We have to work on our ‘plan B’ — i.e., unite all other castes of that region. Gurjars have an important hold on over 50 assembly seats there so we should focus more on them before the polls. In this way, the CM’s Gautam Buddha Nagar visit has its own importance.”


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Who was the king?

King Mihira Bhoja reigned between 836-885 CE, with Kannauj (in present-day UP), which was referred to as Panchala, serving as his capital, according to Rajendra Panwar, who is principal of the Mihir Bhoj PG College, where the statue has been installed.

At the start of his reign, Bhoja reversed the defeats suffered by his father Ramabhadra. He successfully conquered Malwa, Deccan and Gujarat, and gradually rebuilt the empire with conquests of the territories in Rajputana and Madhya Pradesh.

“He is seen as an idol for the Gurjar community and the nation. Former Delhi chief minister, (late) Sahib Singh Verma named NH-24 in the name of Mihira Bhoja during his tenure,” said Panwar. 

“Raja Mihira Bhoja is our idol. Not only in Greater Noida but Gurjars across the country have huge respect for him. We are happy that CM Yogi has accepted our invitation,” said Radha Charan Bhati, the UP president of Gurjar Vidya Sabha, a body that runs the college.

Significance of Gurjar votes in west UP

Speaking about the nature of the CM’s visit, Kaviraj, a political science professor at the Lucknow University said every event before polls has its political significance, whether it’s the unveiling of a statue at a college or naming any scheme after a prominent personality.

“Gurjars have a huge influence in Gautam Buddha Nagar, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Bijnor and several other districts. They form at least 10 per cent of the population in these districts. So the BJP will definitely try to woo them in the present situation, when a large percentage of Jats seem to be angry with the government,” said Kaviraj.

Amid resentment in Jats, who form over 14 per cent population in western UP, the BJP definitely wants to focus on all other ‘non-Jats’ castes now. If the Rashtriya Lok Dal and Samajwadi Party form an alliance, Jats, Yadavs and Muslims can come together to damage other parties’ chances in the region. So, the BJP has to find a solution if it has to retain power, added Kaviraj.

Rajendra Panwar claimed that Gurjars have a population above 15 per cent in more than a dozen districts. The community’s overall UP population is 3 per cent but in more than 50 seats of western UP, it’s above 8 per cent, he said.

“I think a large section of Gurjars has not decided which side they will go but soon will make a decision they. They are happy that Yogi Adityanath himself coming to this event. They have a demand to start a state university in the name of the king,” he added.


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Row erupts over king’s caste, resolved later

On Sunday, ahead of CM Yogi Adityanath’s scheduled visit, some Rajput community organisations protested the event, claiming that King Mihira Bhoja was not a ‘Gurjar’ as claimed by the Gurjar bodies. The Akhil Bharatiya Kshatriya Mahasabha and Karni Sena were among the protesting organisations.

However, the issue was resolved later in the day when several Gurjar and Rajput leaders joined hands.

“Some people are playing politics over this issue, to create differences among the Rajputs and Gurjar communities. Samrat Mihira Bhoja was a great king, and great personalities belong to all the communities. Gurjars and Rajputs are together, and we share a common history,” said Davendra Singh Khatana, vice-president of Rajput Sabha, Gautam Buddha Nagar.

“We, all the Gurjars and the Rajputs, share common roots but we should not fight on this issue. Rajputs must accept this historical fact that we are a family, and King Mihira Bhoja was a Gurjara-Pratihara,” Bhati told ThePrint.

According to a local historian, there is no clarity on the king’s caste. Piyush Bhargava, a history professor at the Lucknow University, said King Mihira Bhoja belonged to the Pratihara dynasty. While some scholars later called it the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty, there is little clarity on how the two names were clubbed together.

“So Gurjars and Rajputs are both claiming Mihira Bhoja as their icon but it’s not easy to say which caste or community he belonged. As a historian, I can tell only about his dynasty and that is the Pratihara dynasty. This dynasty was an imperial power during the late classical period on the Indian subcontinent that ruled much of northern India,” he added.


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