By: M. R. Lalu
The Congress in India has consistently been making a claim that the country should be beholden to the party as it had developed India into a Secular Democratic Republic. Probably, a political view about India in its journey as a country in the post-independence period would not legitimately deny this claim of the Congress. An excavation of the historic evidence and a reasonable assessment would reveal the fact that the party which had emerged as the harbinger of hope in India during the British colonialism could not manage to stay on the same track, energising the diversity of India with unprejudiced acceptance for different religious faiths. The era began with the saffron rise in India has further complicated the importance of Congress, practically weakening the essence that the party desired to project it as; a secular political establishment with no lopsided approach to any religion and the only party with a capability to protect the quintessential -the secular India.
Things changed terribly and the India of Nehruvian socialism leaned for the religiosity of a party that remained untouchable in the Indian Parliament with two members a few decades ago. Never did anyone think the leap that the saffron party made was ever possible. A momentous and tactful beginning from the Ayodhya movement began to bring prospects to the saffron camp and the momentum it gained since 2014 was almost a volcanic eruption. National and local parties equally faced catastrophic collapse. Some parties could manage to survive with little relevance but for someone else, their disintegration was complete. The rout of the Congress from the national frame of Indian power politics puts it in the second category- a crumbled existence of an octogenarian. What was relevant in this collapse was the visible impact of a political indoctrination that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was successful in fielding its cadre with. A total assimilation of politics into religious mannerisms was its plan, evidently trying to address the forgotten ethnicities of the majority while sumptuously reviving the cultural symbols and centers gaining humongous acceptance.
Parties other than the BJP could not, in real terms, speculate dividends from such an amalgam of politics fabulously coated in the Hindutva sentiments. Almost all the parties failed to see the silent and suppressed aspirations of the politically scattered majority which remained a divided tribe with warlords of casteism battling for political relevance and personal gains. Entry of Narendra Modi into the national politics had overturned the fortunes of many in Indian politics and his chain of victories proved his mettle. Addressing the spiritual requirement of the Hindus and reviving Hindu symbols of national significance, the Modi model of governance earned acceptance and respect. Hackneyed and worn out and thrown aloof due to its endless political paranoia and outlandish political approach to Hinduism, the Congress had failed to sustain its pan India appeal. And guess what! The void that its absence created in the political space in India is slowly getting filled by new entrants like Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and some local satraps. The sequence of events that the saffron turf Gujarat witnessed these days is indicative to this vacuum filling. If not second to BJP, the Aam Aadmi Party appears to have managed to emerge as a third party with more damage to the Congress than the BJP. Aravind Kejriwal in Narendra Modi’s shoes! Does this imagery astonish you? The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has conveniently shed its secular skin and its new saffron makeover, would not only baffle you but put you in a woozy nauseating ordeal. Slipping into the garbs and style and momentum of Narendra Modi, the new Hindutva avatar of Arvind Kejriwal, the erstwhile crusader of ‘India against Corruption’ has given us a subject for Chai Pe Charcha.
The latest arrow that he shot from his quiver was a demand that he made with unapologetic intentions and unprecedented shrewdness. Currencies in India must have the images of Laxmi and Ganesh was his brusque clamour. The Hindu hardliners in the Modi camp must have had whirlwinds in their heads and perspiration. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) the alma mater of the BJP’s hard-line Hindutva University must have gone dizzy at the eventuality of the fuss that the AAP version of the hard-nosed Hindutva would cause. It is impossible to speculate on the extent into which the AAP can strike a hole in the BJP’s political dominance among the Hindus. In the run up to the 2013 Delhi assembly elections, the AAP had successfully painted an image depicting it as a clean political entrant intended to bring honest political manoeuvres in Indian politics. Its present somersaults to counter the pole-vaults of the Modi government does not necessarily make it a strong contender, but its energy, ability and shrewd makeovers from state to state would help it capture the political space. Kejriwal is no more a ‘sneaky little fellow’, a sobriquet that Captain Amarinder Singh must have repented soon after his rout in the Punjab elections.
With his mild caress on the Hindutva sentiments by chanting Hanuman Chalisa and visiting temples and his latest howling for currencies with the images of gods and goddesses, the Hanuman Bhakt in Kejriwal understands the strategy that he should keep handy in a state like Gujarat. Kejriwal was thoroughly rattled by the rant of his minister Rajendra Pal Gautam against Hinduism in a Buddhist ceremony wherein hundreds of Hindus got converted to Buddhism. Without any delay he got the minister out of his party and his Hindutva currency was an unscrupulous tale, an attempt of damage control played out well before the Gujarat elections got the heat of political rivalry. After lessons learned from Delhi and Punjab, the BJP would not dare to count him as a sneaky little fellow. Slowly but the self styled politician in Kejriwal is gaining more space in Indian politics. Born as a secular party, AAP’s steady shift towards its newly discovered Hindutva identity would be put to test in Gujarat. The warmth the party is slowly greeted with in the home turf of Narendra Modi is not expected to become a wild fire of acceptance with sweeping electoral victories. With his saffronised gimmicks, if Kejriwal manages to stretch his wings further in Gujarat, the BJP would have a serious reason to worry about. Agencies investigating the corruption charges against his party may not be able to douse the fire this sneaky man would set. The BJP would require the entire saffron parivar to fire-fight the AAP’s new version of Hindutva. Would the Sangh be happy doing it? Does Rahul Gandhi’s political expedition from Kanyakumari to Kashmir have the potentiality to teach him the gist of the new political hysterics that Kejriwal has begun his war preparations in Gujarat? (The author is a freelance journalist/social worker & can be reached at email@example.com)