Come elections, political parties remember the legacy of Maharaja Suheldev, who is said to have killed Ghaznavid general Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud in the early 11th century.
If during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, NDA partners in Uttar Pradesh remembered him, the situation is no different now with the state assembly polls less than a year away.
This time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to lay the foundation stone of Maharaja Suheldev Memorial and development work of Chittaura Lake on Tuesday through video conferencing.
The event in Bahraich also marks the birth anniversary of Maharaja Suheldev. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will also be present on the occasion.
The complete project will include installation of an equestrian statue of Maharaja Suheldev and development of various tourist amenities like cafeteria, guest house and a children's park, an official said.
Maharaja Suheldev's devotion and service to the country is a source of inspiration for all and with the development of the memorial site, the country will be able to get better acquainted with the heroic saga of the personality, according to an official release.
Rajbhar community members, who consider Suheldev as their icon, constitute a significant percentage of the Purvanchal population and are regarded as the second politically dominant force to reckon with after the Yadavs in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Since the Rajbhar vote bank is not intact, different parties try to woo them for electoral support from time to time.
Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief and former UP minister Om Prakash Rajbhar had parted ways with the NDA and distanced himself from an event to pay tributes to Suheldev in Ghazipur ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in 2019, protesting he was not invited for the event well in time.
While releasing a postal stamp at the event in Ghazipur, Prime Minister Modi had said effort was to take Maharaja Suheldev's contribution to all Indians through the postal stamp.
"It is said that when he was the king, people did not lock doors," he had said, stressing that Suheldev belonged to all.
"Such brave sons were not given a proper honour by previous governments and we have taken it as our duty to accord them the respect due to them," Modi said.
Adityanath had said the Centre "has accorded the honour and respect to Suheldev after 1,000 years in order to ensure that his memory is kept alive for future generations".
Political observers point out that a similar situation was witnessed in 2016, when then BJP president Amit Shah unveiled the statue of Suheldev in Bahraich, and SBSP (which was not a partner in the NDA then) had announced it would oppose the BJP's efforts to appropriate the 11th century king for political gains.
During his tenure as UP chief minister, Rajnath Singh had also got Raja Suheldev's statue installed at a key traffic island at Lalbagh in the state capital.
Amid the tussle, SBSP chief Rajbhar had recently claimed that the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) (PSP-L) would join the Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha, a front floated by him, to take on the NDA jointly, but PSP(L) chief Shivpal Yadav was not that forthcoming.
Maharaja Suheldev exists somewhere between the boundary of fiction and history. The only surviving account of him is the Mirat-i-Masudi, a historical romance written in Persian.
Legends can barely agree upon his name, alternating between Sakardev, Suhirdadhwaj, Suhridil, Suhridal-dhaj, Rai Suhrid Dev, Susaj, Suhardal, among others, much less on his caste or religious identity.
At the end of the day, what we have is a king with a Hindu-sounding name and a historically unverifiable personal identity who defeated a Muslim invader.
The Rajbhar community has a presence in nearly 125 assembly seats in eastern Uttar Pradesh and constitutes 2.6 per cent of the state's population. SBSP chief Rajbhar had claimed that in 62 assembly seats, the community needed a little support from other groups to win these seats.
It is no wonder that the legend of Maharaja Suheldev has been marshalled for the cause of vote bank politics.
Rajbhar had formed SBSP in October 2002 and in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the political outfit won four seats.
The Uttar Pradesh assembly has a total of 403 seats.
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