Arvind Kejriwal
Arvind Kejriwal
(Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP)

New Delhi: ‘Vikas’ – development -- has befriended the ‘other Hindu’ – the one who is anchored in his beliefs but does not subsist on a staple diet of hate.

Arvind Kejriwal, a much mellowed man these days, has reinvented himself from an ‘anarchist’ into ‘the other Hindu’ who finds his beliefs, say, in Hanuman, totally compatible with his development agenda.

He may not wear Hinduism up his sleeve like his BJP counterparts; nor is he an ‘apologetic’ Hindu, like some Congressmen, but he still does not shy of visiting the temple of Lord Ram’s trusted lieutenant, Hanuman, to offer his vote of thanks, accompanied by his wife and children.

In these times of religiosity, when politics has seeped into articles of faith, the political messaging of such optics can’t be overstated, especially in view of BJP propaganda against Keriwal, whom Pra-kash Javadekar had derisively dismissed as a ‘terrorist.’

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accompanied Kejriwal.

“This is the day of Lord Hanuman who has blessed the people of Delhi. We pray that Hanumanji keeps showing the right path to us, so that we continue to serve people for the next five years,” Kejriwal said, addressing party workers in New Delhi.

Whether this was a deft use of Hindu motifs to consolidate hold on the urban middle-class voter or an indication of AAP’s future forays at the national level, is anybody’s guess.

The AAP leader had last visited the temple on February 7, on the eve of the election.

That visit had elicited considerable flak from the leader of the Delhi BJP unit, Manoj Tiwari, who had dubbed him as a ‘nakli bhakt’, saying the Delhi CM had removed his shoes and held a garland for the deity with the same hand.

“Woh (Arvind Kejriwal) pooja karne gaye the ya Hanumanji ko ashudh karne gaye the? Ek haath se joota utaarke, ussi haath se mala lekar...kya kar diya? Jab nakli bhakt aate hain na toh yahi hota hai. Maine pandit ji ko bataya, bahut baar Hanuman Ji ko dhoye hain.

(Did Arvind Kejriwal go there to offer prayers or impure the Lord Hanuman? He removed his shoes and held a garland for the deity in the same hand. This happens only when a fake devotee offers prayers. I asked the priest. He told me Lord Hanuman was repeatedly bathed).”

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had also mocked Kejriwal for chanting Hanuman Chaalisa. Addressing a poll rally in Delhi, Adityanath had said that after Kejriwal, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi too would also start chanting Hanuman Chaalisa.

“Ever since I chanted Hanuman Chaalisa on a TV channel, the BJP people are constantly mocking me. Yesterday I went to the Hanuman Temple. Today BJP leaders are saying that the temple was defiled by my visit. What kind of politics is this? God belongs to everyone. God bless everyone, even those in BJP,” Kejriwal had tweeted, after the incident.

However, as some observers pointed out, going by the outcome of the election, Hanuman was not offended; instead, he seems to have been appeased by the government that rolled back its shirtsleeves and had worked for the aam aadmi of New Delhi in the last five years.

Clarifying on his recitation of the Hanuman Chaalisa, Kejriwal had earlier said, “It was a coincidence. There was an interview going on. He (the interviewer) said that BJP members were saying that I am anti-Hindu.

I replied that I help senior citizens to seek blessings at Vaishno Devi, Mathura, Vrindavan, Shirdi, Tirupati, then how am I anti-Hindu? I am a staunch believer of Lord Hanuman.” He added, “When I said this, he asked whether I know Hanuman Chaalisa.

So, I replied yes and he asked me to recite it. The BJP has a problem with this too... I expect the BJP members also to read it (Hanuman Chaalisa). I don't think, those from the BJP would have read Hanuman Chaalisa in their entire life.”

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