Controversy erupts in UP over Suheldev’s caste

Within hours of the foundation laying ceremony of the statue of Maharaja Suheldev by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a controversy has erupted over the legendary warrior king’s caste.

BJP MP from Basgaon, Kamlesh Paswan, has written a letter to the President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Alleging that some vested interests had suffixed ‘Rajbhar’ to the name of Suheldev whereas the warrior king belonged to the Pasi community.

He further said that the state government should mention his name as ‘Maharaja Suheldev Pasi’ on the memorial and also on other projects launched by the Prime Minister to mark his contribution.

UP minister Anil Rajbhar, meanwhile, claimed that Maharaja Suheldev belonged to the Rajbhar community while Paswan maintained that the minister’s assertion was igniting anger among the Pasi community that had great admiration regard for Maharaja Suheldev.

The BJP MP said that the state government should verify historical documents and add Pasi surname to the memorial and other projects being dedicated to the king.

Om Prakash Rajbhar, former UP minister and president of the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP), claimed that as per the historical texts, including Mirat-i-Masudi written by Abdur Rehman Chishti, Suheldev belonged to the ‘Bhar’ community which is a sub-caste of Rajbhar.

“My party will oppose any move by the state government to project Suheldev as a Pasi. We are going to organise meetings in Rajbhar-dominated constituencies across the state to make our community aware of his contribution,” he said.

BSP leader Ram Achal Rajbhar, on the other hand, stated that it was the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) that had first highlighted the role of Suheldev in upliftment of weaker sections.

“The BJP is now invoking his name to get Dalit votes,” he said.

The Samajwadi Party spokesman said that the BJP was trying to divide the Dalit community by raising the issue of Suheldev’s caste.

“Instead of creating ugly controversies over the caste issue, political parties should focus on the legacy and work done by great leaders,” he said.

A senior government official said that in all projects, the name of the warrior king was mentioned as ‘Maharaja Suheldev’ and the caste name was not mentioned at all.