Gods on currency notes: Kerala AAP lauds Kejriwal’s proposal, Twenty20 dithers

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Aam Aadmi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal. Photo: Manorama

Aam Aadmi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal’s proposal to have photos of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi printed on fresh currency notes has shocked many as it is seen as a move to please the Hindu electorate ahead of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections.

The Kerala unit of the party is, meanwhile, defending Kejriwal’s statement with a strange explanation. The AAP state unit claims that the Delhi chief minister has once again outsmarted the Hindutva agenda of the BJP with his proposal.

Twenty20, AAP’s lone ally in the southern state, is however treading a cautious path on the controversy.

Kejriwal made the proposal during a media briefing in Delhi on Wednesday. He said the new notes could have a picture of Mahatma Gandhi on one side and of the two deities on the other as it would bring prosperity to the economy. “Sometimes our efforts do not fructify if gods and goddesses are not blessing us. I appeal to PM Modi to have photos of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Laxmi on our currency notes,” he stated. His party colleagues, including Atishi and Sanjay Singh, backed Kejriwal’s claim while the BJP and Congress have opposed the proposal, though for different reasons.

While BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Kejriwal is doing political drama to divert people's attention from the flaws of his government and the "anti-Hindu" mindset of the AAP, Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring accused the Delhi CM of resorting to competitive Hindutva to outwit the BJP in Gujarat.

Smart move: Kerala AAP

The Kerala unit of the AAP hailed Kejriwal’s proposal as a smart move that has put the BJP on the defensive.

AAP state convener P C Cyriac said Kejriwal has taken the discussion over the serious economic crisis in the country and its adverse impacts to the common people by upholding cultural symbols like Goddess Laxmi and Lord Ganesha.

“With his demand, Kejriwal has diffused the Sangh Parivar’s project to print the photos of its founding leaders like Golwalkar, Deendayal Upadhyaya and Savarkar on currency notes,” the former IAS officer said in a statement. He said BJP’s strategy to project Kejriwal as anti-Hindu in Gujarat has fallen flat.

“The demand to print gods’ images on currency notes is not an election promise. Instead, Kejriwal’s aim was to convince the people about the sorry state of affairs the BJP has taken the country into with its inefficiency, corruption and crony capitalism. He has also silenced the BJP leaders and exposed their communal agenda through a tactical move,” Cyriac said.

The party’s state unit has also amplified these claims on social media.

In a post on its official Facebook page (Aam Aadmi Party Keralam), the party claimed that Kejriwal has effectively prevented the BJP’s move to print photos of ‘some other people’ with his proposal.

“BJP can’t now print photos of its leaders (on currency notes). Nor will they place the photos of gods as it was proposed by Kejriwal,” the post reads.

In another post, the AAP Keralam compared the latest proposal with a previous instance where Kejriwal’s demanded to install a statue of Lord Hanuman along with that of Shri Ram at the Ayodhya temple. 

“It was a psychological statement knowing well that the savarna communal BJP will not install a statue of Hanuman, who is worshipped by the Dalits. As a result, AAP won the Punjab elections with a brute majority. Similarly, the current proposal is a master surgical strategy as Kejriwal knows very well that the BJP will not print the photo of Ganesh, who is worshiped by the avarnas,” the post reads.

This defence has not, however, gone well with the party’s social media followers as is evident from the comments. The social media users have flagged the ‘strange justification’ while some wrote ‘AAP is no different from other parties.’

Twenty20 reluctant to respond

The AAP announced its alliance with the Twenty20, a political party backed by the corporate Kitex Group, in Kerala in August this year. Twenty20, which rules four local bodies in Ernakulam district and polled a significant vote share in a few assembly segments, found a natural ally in AAP as both the parties claim to be taking on mainstream parties, which they charge as corrupt entities.

Twenty20 is yet to issue an official response to the controversy over Kejriwal curency notes proposal. The party’s reluctance to get into the controversy was evident when Onmanorama contacted its chief coordinator Sabu M Jacob. “We will react after looking into the matter in detail,” he said.

Jacob, however, said as a general principle, he was against mixing up religion with politics.

‘Kejriwal’s communal card’

Activist and former AAP leader C R Neelakandan said there was nothing surprising in Kejriwal’s latest statement as he has been playing the communal card in the past few years for political survival. “We have seen him making similar statements in the past few years. The bigger problem we face is that BJP has taken politics to a state where a party can survive only by playing to the agenda it has set,” Neelakandan said.

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