Kejriwal has let down his supporters by stooping to new low for electoral benefits
It is surprising that within a short span of eight years, Arvind Kejriwal has forgotten the principals he used to espouse that endeared him to a section of society
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal is increasingly indulging in communal politics, in contrast to his stance when he first entered politics when he used to often talk about the evils of both corruption and communalism. Now, many AAP leaders are evidently neck deep in corruption, and Kejriwal himself is competing with the BJP to peddle communalism.
In his latest such statement, Kejriwal had expressed the desire for pictures of Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of wealth and Ganesha, the God of wisdom and intellect to be featured on Indian currency notes. He is obviously trying to appease Hindu voters in view of the forthcoming Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat Assembly elections, harbouring an aspiration to see the AAP becoming a national political party.
The reality is that it is too early to say if Kejriwal and his party would be able to derive political benefits out of their new approach to politics for the sake of power without making the socio-political scenario ever more toxic on account of communalism.
However, it is surprising that within a short span of eight years, he has forgotten what propelled his meteoric rise.
On February 25, 2014, Kejriwal had said that communalism is a bigger problem facing the country than corruption. Politically speaking, he was targeting the Congress by using the word ‘corruption’ and the BJP by using the word ‘communalism’.
When the BJP and Narendra Modi emerged as chief challenger of the Congress during the campaign for the General Election in 2014, he targetted the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, telling the people about Modi’s communal past and his alleged complicity as Gujarat Chief Minister in the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
Later, in 2015, Arvind Kejriwal became CM of Delhi by sweeping the polls in Delhi by winning 67 seats out of 70. The real cause behind such a big victory was the clean and secular image of Kejriwal, which he seems to have all but forgotten now.
Within five years, by 2020, Kejriwal started moving away from inclusive politics to communal one. On many occasions, he tried to prove his Hindu credentials, and became bold enough in political and public display of his religious beliefs. On one occasion, he even recited the ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ and cited its benefits.
On the eve of the last Delhi Assembly election, held in 2020, he flaunted a visit to a Hanuman temple in his constituency.
Most people believed that Kejriwal’s actions were merely antidotes to BJP’s polarising politics, but they were mistaken. His actions and statements are clearly competitive Hindutva as against the BJP’s majoritarian ‘Hindu Rashtra’ campaign.
Kejriwal’s decision to adopt competitive Hindutva at the cost of development and anti-corruption agenda is indeed a shocking turn, even though the Congress has long called the AAP as the “B team of the BJP”.
In comparison with the hyper nationalism of the BJP, riding on Hindutva communal politics, Kejriwal seems to be not far behind. He had even introduced classes for ‘patriotism’ in Delhi government schools. He avoided comments against CAA or abrogation of Article 370.
His government even installed a temporary model of Ayodhya Ram Mandir in Delhi, and celebrated Diwali. During Goa and Uttarakhand elections he promised religious pilgrimages to voters. In view of the Gujarat elections, his pilgrimage scheme now includes Somnath, Dwarka, and Nageshwar Jyotirlinga.
Thus, Kejriwal has been deftly playing Hindutva card for some time now without showing himself communal, or less communal than the BJP and their leaders. He and his party are failing in upholding secularism in true sense of this term.
In the latest instance, Kejriwal has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to include the images of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha on new currency notes on one side while retaining the picture of Mahatma Gandhi on the other.
His statement tries to propagate Hindu superstition. He said that having images of the two deities on the currency notes would help the country prosper. “Despite making efforts, sometimes our efforts do not fructify if gods and goddesses are not blessing us. I appeal to PM Modi to have photos of Lord Ganesa and Goddess Lakshmi on our currency notes,” he said.
Kejriwal has certainly reduced himself to communal politics at a time when people in general had great hope on his earlier inclusive politics to take on communal Hindutva politics of the RSS and the BJP. That hope now lies shattered.
Views are personal