Kejriwal’s call for deities’ images on currency notes shows he’ll go to any extent for Hindu votes
The government will deploy 225 and 159 teams during days and nights, respectively, to monitor dust pollution in the city, said Kejriwal

Kejriwal’s call for deities’ images on currency notes shows he’ll go to any extent for Hindu votes

Kejriwal has by now tried to appropriate all national icons — from the Left to the Right — and discarded many on the way

The remarkable victory in the Punjab polls prompted Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal to harden his Hindutva stance. He is now convinced that he can take the Hindutva game away from the BJP — in a small way as he did in Punjab, and in a major way as he is planning to do in Gujarat.

Kejriwal’s shocking call for the picture of Hindu gods and goddesses to be printed on currency notes shows once again that he will stop at nothing to woo the Hindu vote. In that sense, he is willing to play a more dangerous game than the BJP. But for a man who has traversed the entire gamut of ideological positions and now occupies the extreme right wing, this call is nothing new. All he cares for — or fears — is the Hindu vote. And to get that, he will go to any extent.

The extreme irony of this call for images of Hindu deities on currency notes is that it was made in a room with pictures of Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh hanging on the wall behind him. Both were atheists, and one, a Marxist as well.

It was as if Kejriwal wanted to show the irony of his new ideological game. It is a surprise that the frame holding the Ambedkar picture did not crack. Kejriwal has by now tried to appropriate all national icons — from the Left to the Right — and discarded many on the way.

Major blow to secular plank

AAP, like TMC, is a post-ideology party. But even by that standard, Kejriwal’s use-and-discard system is shocking. The Hindu currency note demand is a major blow to the secular plank on which he stood till now. It is clear now that he is planning to rewrite the BJP Hindu-hugging strategy.

Kejriwal’s use of icons and gods is a matter of electoral convenience, just like it was for the BJP. He is now convinced that he can play the game better than Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. His surprising call is an indication that in terms of image, he is all set to discard the working class clothes that identified the AAP in Delhi and don the saffron.

Also read: Kejriwal’s poll sop for Gujarat: Rs 40 daily per cow if AAP wins

Kejriwal is ideologically shameless. In Punjab, Ambedkar (30 per cent Dalit Sikhs) and Bhagat Singh were the AAP icons for obvious reasons. That combination worked unexpectedly well. Conveniently, Kejriwal does not dwell for long on the philosophy of the heroes he picks. His only concern is whether the voter will connect with them.

Hence, Ambedkar was one of the AAP icons in Punjab. But when a mass conversion of Dalits to Buddhism in Delhi created a furore after the mandatory anti-Hindu pledge was taken, Kejriwal dropped his minister Rajendrapal Gautam, who attended the function. It was not a signal to Gautam, but a wink at the Gujarati voter. He sees the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to defer the Gujarat polls as a sign of the BJP panicking and has now gone ahead and sent another saffron arrow towards Gujarat.

Anything for Hindu votes

To get his Hindu credentials right, Kejriwal has presented himself in front of various Hindu deities and arranged pilgrimages to Hindu sites with government money. When his right-hand man and Delhi’s Deputy CM, Manish Sisodia, set out to answer his summons from the CBI, it was as if he was setting out for a pilgrimage to Kedarnath. He received blessings, prasad, and a tika from his family members.

Also read: Gujarat wants new engine government, not double engine one: Kejriwal

But out on the road, Sisodia immediately switched to the national flag, maybe in the absence of an AAP flag. National flags are not in short supply because AAP has decorated Delhi with huge national flags—500 of them—in a wasteful Rs 100 crore project to show that the size of the flag is also a measure of its patriotism.

All this is also part of Kejriwal’s belief that the Gujarati voter is basically regressive and will not accept any modernist ideas. Earlier in his tenure, he embraced the Left, Marxism (Bhagat Singh), and modernity, too, till he gave up for fear of the Hindu vote turning against him.

Towards “real Hindutva”

In his speech during the inauguration of the Signature Bridge in north Delhi in 2018, Kejriwal said: “If Nehru had chosen to build temples and statues instead of institutions like BHEL and SAIL, the country would not have progressed. The country will languish in the 15th century if temples and mosques are given preference over science, technology, and research,” the Delhi Chief Minister had added.

He had even alleged that to stop his government from completing the bridge, officials and engineers were threatened with CBI raids against them. “The Signature Bridge has been completed only because there is an honest government in Delhi,” Kejriwal had asserted.

Also read: “Don’t insult common man,” Kejriwal on PM Modi’s revdi comment

That call for modernity now looks so distant. With his call for religious images on currency notes, Kejriwal has shown that he is moving from “Hindutva lite” to “real Hindutva.” It is a call that even Modi, Shah, or Yogi Adityanath had avoided giving. In this game of who shreds secularism first, Kejriwal wants to emerge the winner. This highly educated man knows that he is playing with fire. But for him, only the vote matters.

Ever since Independence, only Gandhiji’s image has adorned currency notes. Now asking that this famous Gujarati’s image be removed from notes, and print these with mythical images instead, is yet another call to shed all that Gandhiji and India stood for. Kejriwal will, sooner than later, have to atone for this call.

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