A Statement on BJP advertisement on 10th May 1857
(misinformation about Mangal Pandey)


Press Statement
Sangh Parivar Insults 1857 Martyrs: SAHMAT

ON May 9, several of the newspapers and TV channels carried a surrogate advertisement (on behalf of the BJP), in an appeal to the voters who were to cast their votes the next day, in the fourth and last round of polling. The ad said: It was on the 10th of May in 1857 that Mangal Pandey raised the banner of revolt and “fired the first shot against the foreigners” (meaning the British); now the voters will have to think whether (impliedly on the same date in 2004) they would like to “hand the country over to a foreigner.” The appeal to the voters was: “Don’t insult the sacrifices made by lakhs of our martyrs, and honour the sacred day of May 10.”

That the ad was issued in utter violation of the Election Commission of India’s clear-cut directive against surrogate ads, is itself an indication of how much the BJP and its hangers-on care for the sanctity of our constitutional bodies.

In the said ad, the insinuation against Mrs Sonia Gandhi could not be clearer.

Then, there also remains the question whether the BJP and its cohorts have ever deemed it necessary to remember the sacred day of May 10. It is clear that it was their electoral compulsion that made them remember this sacred day this year only.

Apart from the poor taste in which the said ad referred to Mrs Sonia Gandhi, it also involves a more weighty consideration. And it is that the RSS-BJP brand of history has never been truthful to the facts of history.

For, the fact is that martyr Mangal Pandey



raised the banner of revolt against the British not on May 10, 1857, but in February that year at Barrackpore in Bengal, and for his patriotism he was put to death in March 1857. It was the sepoys of Meerut who raised the banner of revolt on May 10, 1857, came to Delhi the next day, and proclaimed Bahadur Shah Zafar the emperor of India.

No freedom loving Indian would ever think of denying the role of martyr Mangal Pandey and his supreme sacrifice for the cause of the country’s independence. We all have greatest regard for the heroism displayed by Mangal Pandey and his comrades and also by the lakhs of sepoys, the common peasants and their leaders like Nana Saheb, Tatya Tope, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Bakht Khan, Maulvi Ahmadullah, Aminullah, Prince Birjis Qadr and, not the least, by Rani Lakshmi Bai, who all fought valiantly against the British. But the Sangh Parivar has gravely insulted the sacred memory of these sepoys, peasants and their leaders by trying to make electoral capital in their name. The fact is that in its mad drive to somehow garner votes, the Sangh Parivar did not even think it necessary to put the facts right.

But, then, who could expect a regard for historical facts from an outfit that did nor participate in our momentous freedom struggle and, moreover, does not even care a fig for studying the history of that momentous struggle?

The latest surrogate ad is not only an insult to the patriotic sense of we the Indians but even indicates how the RSS and its outfits have been trying to teach history to our younger generations.

Rajen Prasad