Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal has increasingly been becoming blind to the communal politics in India since 2014 when he could see the evils of both corruption and communalism, but now he does not see any of those quagmires. Many AAP leaders are now neck deep in corruption, and Kejriwal himself is competing with the BJP by resorting to competitive Hindutva fuelling communalism.
Kejriwal’s latest statement has come on October 26, 2022 in which he wanted the pictures of Lakshmi the Hindu Goddess of Wealth and Ganesa the God of Wisdom and Intellect on Indian Currency notes. He is obviously eying on the support of Hindu voters in the forthcoming Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat Vidhan Sabha elections with an aspiration of becoming national political party. He also aspires to derive long-term political benefit during the Lok Sabha Election 2024, in absence of any national political party being able to challenge the Modi phenomenon. He discounts the Congress as a spent political force and in not even able to see the resurgence of the Congress though Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Let it be so, but it would be too early to say if Kejriwal and his AAP would be able to derive political benefits out their new approach to politics for the sake of power without making socio-political scenario ever more toxic on account of communalism. However, it is surprising that within a short span of eight years he forgot the real cause behind 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’. Kejriwal had already led campaigns against corruption under Congress led UPA and had garnered huge public support. However, when the BJP and Narendra Modi emerged as chief challenger of the Congress during the campaigns for Lok Sabha Election 2014, he spared the Congress and targeted chiefly the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, telling the people about Modi’s communal past and alleged complicity as Chief Minister during 2002 post-Godhra riots.
Later in 2015, Arvind Kejriwal became chief minister of Delhi by sweeping the polls in Delhi by winning 67 seats out of 70. BJP could win only 3 seats, and Congress was just washed out of the political scene. The real cause behind such an expectacural victory was cleaner and secular image of Kejriwal, which he seems to have forgotten now.
Within five years by 2020, Kejriwal seemed moving away from inclusive politics to communal one. At occasions, he tried to prove his Hindu credentials, and became bolder enough in political and public display of his religious beliefs. At one occasion he even recited “Hanuman Chalisa” and cited it benefit. On the eve of the last Delhi Assembly election in 2020, he visited Hanuman Temple in his constituency. And all these were a part of politics and never expressive of his religiosity.
Most of the people believed that Kejriwal’s actions were merely antidotes to BJP’s Hindu polarizing politics, but they were mistaken. His actions and statements go beyond being antidotes to communal politics, a competitive Hindutva as against the BJP’s majoritarian Hindu Rashtra Campaigns.
Leaving anti-corruption and development agenda by Kejriwal and adopting competitive Hindutva is indeed a shocking turn. For long, the Congress has called the AAP as the “B team of the BJP” may be untrue, but it cannot be denied that AAP’s election strategies always target the Congress and weaken it, wherever the Congress has been in direct contest with 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 even avoided comment against CAA or removal 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 even religious pilgrimages. He is trying to make entry even in Gujarat politics and therefore his pilgrimage scheme has included 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 government are just 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 Ganesa on new currency notes on one side while retaining the picture of Mahatma Gandhi on the other. He has just failed to see communalism into his appeal.
Moreover, 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.
To mislead people away from his competitive political Hindutva, he even cited the example of Indonesia – a Muslim nation that has a picture of Lord Ganesa on its currency note. “When Indonesia can, why can’t we?” he said. Kejriwal has certainly reduced himself to communal politics at a time when people in general have great hope on his earlier inclusive politics to take on communal Hindutva politics of the RSS and the BJP, but the hope has now been shattered. (IPA Service)