Former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh passed away in 1987. During his lifetime, Charan Singh who belonged to the Jat community of western UP succeeded in mobilising and uniting the agrarian castes of the region.

He had left the Congress Party in the late 1960s to focus the country’s attention on the plight of farmers. He founded the Bharatiya Kranti Dal (BKD) and emerged victorious in the state elections held in 1969.

In present times the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Jayant Chaudhary, grandson of Charan Singh is trying to live up to the legacy of his grandfather as a champion of the agrarian heartland of western UP.

In his own quiet way there is an attempt to challenge the prevailing politics in western UP that has divided communities.

The magic of Charan Singh lay in appreciating the politics of the Socialist Party and in having earned the support of the Yadav community as well as of most Muslims.

The former Prime Minister is responsible for mentoring Socialist leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav in UP. And yet divisions crept between the communities and their own support bases.

The present day politics of the family of Charan Singh is to once again bring populations together. Along with Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav, Jayant Chaudhary wants a united front to challenge the divisive politics of hate where riot mongering politicians like Sanjeev Baliyan are allowed to thrive.

No Challenge

Although on the opposite end of the politics of Charan Singh, the ruling party is now full of praise for the former Prime Minister. On his death anniversary celebrated last month, the ruling party referred to Charan Singh as a great leader of farmers.

The ruling party claims that in UP, it has realised Charan Singh’s dream by having recently renovated the Chhaprauli sugar mill, the workplace of Charan Singh.

Similarly, another political opponent of the ruling party and founder of the Samajwadi Party (SP) Mulayam Singh Yadav was also honoured posthumously by the ruling by giving him the high civilian award the Bharat Ratna. “Rightly so as politicians who are no more do not pose any electoral challenge to the ruling party,” a cynic told The Citizen.

RLD and SP Alliance

RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav are in an alliance today. The two youthful leaders have inherited an inspiring political legacy from their respective elders. However, they are yet to reap an enviable political harvest that will help to change the politics of hate into harmony, and relative prosperity for the people of UP.

The SP is the main opposition party in UP today. In recent times the SP has tasted defeats at the civic polls and at the polls recently concluded for two seats to the Legislative Assembly.

Now the SP has announced a ‘mandir march’ when Akhilesh Yadav will go to Naimisharanya, the famous religious place in Sitapur for a two day training camp for SP workers. The SP's election campaign will begin on June 9 from Naimisharanya.

At the training camp, thousands of SP workers will learn more about Dalit leader Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar and socialist leader Dr. Manohar Lohia, and participate in a puja.

There is no comment from the RLD over the religious ceremony to be hosted by the SP. Well-wishers of the SP wonder what Akhilesh Yadav is up to? Seasoned socialists recall how Mulayam Singh Yadav was an ardent devotee of Hanuman, but he had never felt the need to showcase his love for his god in public.

The Gurjara-Pratihara Dynasty

In the 9th Century there was a king called Mihir Bhoj of the mighty Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty. His capital was the present day city of Kannauj.

Kannauj is fertile land that was contested at that time between the Palas of Bengal, Rashtrakutas from the Deccan, and the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty that had ruled Rajasthan, Gujarat, Malwa and other parts of northern India. Before Kannauj, the seat of power of the Gurjara-Pratihara rulers were Ujjain and Malwa.

The tripartite struggle in the region was an effort by three local powers to assert their might over Kannauj. The Gurjara-Pratihara had served as a strong wall of defence against Arab armies. For a while they were the most powerful kingdom in northern India and a force to reckon with.

Those warriors who came from Gurjara land, that historical region of eastern Rajasthan and northern Gujarat, between the 6th Century and 12th Century are said to be Gurjar while the word ‘pratihara’ is traced back to Lakshmana who served as protector or door-keeper during the 14 year old exile of his brother King Rama in the forest.

According to an inscription from the time of Gurjara-Pratihara king Mihir Bhoj, Lakshman the son of Sumitra acted as a door-keeper of his elder brother. The descendants of Lakshman continue to call themselves Pratihara.

Some scholars believe that the word Gurjar implies a tribe of people, and not a place or a country. A large community of Gurjar is said to have populated the area around the base of Mount Abu in Rajasthan from where they migrated to other parts of the country, including Uttar Pradesh (UP).

Over time kingdoms were lost and the Gurjars along with Jats, Rajputs and Yadavs were engaged mostly in agricultural activities. However, they remained militarily adept and continued to battle.

In more recent times, their hostility to colonial rule was responsible for the decline of their stature in society and they were declared criminal tribes after their participation in the revolt of 1857 against the British.

By the time the country won Independence the community was reduced to utter poverty, and today the Gurjar are counted as a part of other backward castes. A sizable Gurjar community populates western UP that is crucial to winning any election.

In an attempt to win over the agrarian Gurjars, the ruling party inaugurated a statue of Mihir Bhoj at Dadri near Greater Noida on the eve of the last state elections held in early 2022. However, that attempt has caused a deep rift between the Gurjar and Rajput population of Western UP.

There has been trouble in the region ever since the upper caste Rajput community claimed that Mihir Bhoj was a Rajput king, and not a Gurjar ancestor. The peace and harmony of the region is dangerously disturbed.