Minority appeasement politics of the Congress and Marxists got derailed and they paid heavily. Hence, for Kejriwal and AAP the so-called ‘Soft Hindutva’ is only a poll plank and Hindus should not fall for it.
All elections like the World Cup Cricket throw in heroes and villains. In just held Delhi assembly election outcome, Arvind Kejriwal has emerged as a key protagonist winning accolades chiefly from the secular (read sickular!) brigade. Adjectives have been thrown in rather liberally as the Delhi Chief Minister becoming the neo-darling of the brigade who wants to corner the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo.
Talk to likes of Mamata Banerjee and her fellow party compatriots – they would say something ‘unthinkable’ has happened in Delhi.
While they are glad at the BJP’s humbling – and that would not be unthinkable, what is ‘absurd’ for them is that Kejirwal has turned ‘Hanuman Bhakt’ and brandishing his Bhakti in public! Of course, the pro-Hindutva slants of AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, announcement of Sundar Kand recitation and slogan shouting praising Lord Ram was something they did not expect! Or did they?
Underestimating the Delhi voters
Kejriwal sported a red Tilak on his forehead making it clear that he was a devoted Hindu and would like continue to garner Hindu votes. “Aaj mangal vaar hai…(cheers from the crowd)…Hanuman ji ka din hai…. The Lord Hanuman has blessed our Delhi and I thank him for this victory),” he said. Later in the day, when Kejriwal visited the Hanuman temple in Connaught Place locality, there was large sloganeering and cries of ‘Jai shree Ram, Jai shree Ram’. A transformation has happened in Indian politics!
Thus, it is not without good reason that a major theory has been debated. Is Kejriwal’s ‘soft Hindutva’ card emerging as a new trump card which can undo Prime Minister Modi’s political journey.
Well, Kejriwal is not the only leader from non-Congress and non-BJP block who has played ‘soft Hindutva’ card. Undoubtedly, the Congress had played up Shiv Bhakt card for Rahul Gandhi in 2018 and 2019 – benefitting at times but not able to take the voters for granted on other occasions.
“AAP’s national plans got a booster. The mandate in Delhi shows, Arvind Kejriwal is the new leader who can take on the hitherto considered invincible power of Narendra Modi.” – Shoaib Iqbal, AAP MLA
Among other parties, in retrospect, the CPI-M, the champion of minority appeasement at national politics at the garb of secularism, has in the past played the ‘pro-Hindu card’ in Kerala for long. Marxists were the ‘original Hindu party’ in Kerala and Congress was contended wooing Christians and Muslims and the grand old party knew a section of Hindu voters would come to it periodically. Thus every five years, Congress-led UDF and CPI(M)-led LDF shared powers every five years. This was the era when BJP was generally given out as a Hindi and cow-belt party and that also committed to welfare of Baniyas and Brahmins.
Things have changed a lot. Somewhere the Marxists got derailed and guided by minority appeasement politics pursued in full swing by the Congress, they ultimately paid heavily in Tripura and West Bengal. Perhaps, they will have to pay similar price in Kerala as well. In 2019 general elections, CPI-M suffered perhaps more because of their handling of Sabarimala protest.
Hence the moral of the lesson is – Running with hare and hunting with hounds will not help these outfits. Thus, it goes without saying – as the Hindi saying goes — “Pat bhi mera chit bhi mera nahi chalega”. The AAP’s Hindutva slant is only a political ploy. People of India know who is where, who stands with Hindus or otherwise.
“Mere organising of Sundar Kand Path will not make someone genuine Hindu or endear such a party to the Hindus,” says one BJP leader. In this context, BJP spokesman Sambit Patra says the test of loyalty towards the cause of Hindus is Ram Mandir and BJP is the only party which has stood by this demand and made sacrifices for long. In fact, another version is: the AAP will be taking a risk if it plays up its so called and new found ‘soft Hindutva’ card much intensely.
“When it comes to Tukde gang and matters related to Kanhaiya Kumar. In sedition case, the AAP will be tested. The Hindu voter is seriously patriotic, and this sentiment must not be underestimated. AAP will have to take clear stand on the sedition case. Actually AAP is only taking a risk, henceforth Muslim voters may not trust them in future,” says an analyst. Others say – the hype around Kejriwal is not based on real time political analysis. They say, the voters in Delhi apply different dynamics in different polls. They are not naive.
Faultline in AAP’s Soft Hindutva stance
It may be easy and armed chair intellectualism to suggest that Kejriwal’s ‘soft Hindutva’ or the perceived new doctrine will take him far.
Delhiites know it pretty well that AAP leaders have stood by Shaheen Bagh protestors and most of them were Muslim women. AAP’s Muslim face – legislator Amanatullah Khan was at the forefront from very beginning and he did manage a massive win after trailing for a brief period. Manish Sisodia himself backed the protest and for his part Kejriwal himself opposed the Citizenship Amendments Act.
I voted for AAP, but ideologically, I still remain firm about Hindutva ideology and admire Modi ji for Ram temple and abrogating Article 370. – Akanksha Singh, a resident in East Delhi’s Mayur Vihar area.
There is another striking feature about AAP’s false claim about Hinduism as some months back – March 2019 – they had tried to use broom (AAP’s symbol) on the sacred symbol of Hinduism – the Swastika. BJP leader Manoj Tiwari did not waste time and tweeted: “It hurts to see power hungry @ArvindKejriwal berating Hindus and Hinduism when it suits his vote calculations. (sic)” In Delhi during parliamentary polls, voting took place on May 12 and – needless to add – AAP had lost seven seats and worse, finished worse than Congress.
Hence, is it a turn of events today or the people who stood up to politics from the rank of NGO workforce and anti-corruption crusade has learned a vital message in contemporary Indian politics?
In 2014, talking about Modi government and the BJP’s approach one scribe had said the new NDA dispensation will not be ‘anti-minority’ but for a change it could be ‘pro-majority’. Are we precisely into that era of Indian politics today? During the height of Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir dispute in 1990, Late Chandrashekhar (former Prime Minister) had said, “I am a proud Hindu”. These are certain period in history which ought to be remembered for pacifying the anger in the streets of Delhi. Even RSS leaders had welcomed Late Prime Minister’s remarks.
“Hindu community does not mean Bharatiya Janata Party, and opposing BJP does not amount to opposing Hindus.” – RSS Sarkaryavaha Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi The timing too is important as the V P Singh government had just fallen. Thus, today when Kejriwal raises ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and tries to praise Lord Hanuman, can we say that would make the Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh (RSS) smile. As a test to this declaration, we can refer to RSS leader Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi’s recent comment when he said – “…..opposing BJP does not amount to opposing Hindus.”
For long, the RSS has been focusing on Man Making among neta class. It has been trying to ‘cultivate’ and create a culture where politicians would not feel shy wearing their Hindu identities in public. Remember Narendra Modi’s first speech outside Gujarat (in Jan 2003) at the Shivaji Park rally – the then Gujarat Chief Minister had said, “We should not be apologetic about Hindutva”. Certainly, Modi has not looked back nor regretted. So, will it be proper to say that Kejriwal will benefit by his supposed pro-Hindutva slant?
But all said and done, it is worth mentioning that one former associate of Kejriwal has tweeted: “Disappointed to see a competent legislator with progressive outlook fall into the fallacious trap of trying to outdo BJP in it’s game”. The same person worked with Kejriwal closely but it would be stretching it too far to suggest that the tweet countering MLA Saurabh Shukla has Kejriwal’s approval. On February 16, the day of his swearing in – Kejriwal – albeit not only scripted history; he made it clear that he is a devoted Hindu.
Tactfully, Kejriwal sought to maintain an equi-distance between BJP and other opposition parties. Some are saying, he may try to emerge as a neo-Atal Bihari Vajpayee devoid of ‘hardline Hindutva’ (as English media likes to put it) unleashed in recent times under Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
Thus, no opposition leaders were invited for the mega swearing in at Ram Lila ground. Please do not forget, a known Modi-basher, Mamata Banerjee, was more than keen to attend the swearing in ceremony, reports from Kolkata suggested earlier. Actually Kejriwal has given a very pointed and displeasing message; for him leaders like Mamata Banerjee or even Uddhav Thackeray and others are today could be possible liabilities. So please stay out!