Until a few years ago, the 'Hindu vote' was considered a myth.
The Delhi election is showing us that no longer holds true.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal attending the News18 conclave, calling himself a kattar Hanuman bhakt and reciting the Hanuman Chalisa — which he also did elsewhere — shows this.
It is the Narendra Modi regime's success in the 2014 and 2019 polls that brought Hindutva politics so boldly and squarely into the public discourse that Opposition leaders can no longer take the electorate for granted.
Take for example, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's high-profile visits to temples before elections, his aides declaring him a Shiv bhakt and 'janeudhari brahmin' and photos of his Kailash-Mansarovar trip being released on social media.
Or TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, who organises Durga Puja celebrations every year with gusto. Or Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan having to slow walk his position after the backlash to Sabarimala.
The BJP has never been apologetic about its Hindutva tilt, but it has become even more outspoken in the face of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests at Shaheen Bagh and Jamia university.
Take, for instance, its 'jaago Dilli' poll song released on social media.
The question is why Kejriwal reinforced his identity — that of a devout Hindu who religiously goes to the Hunman temple and sings the Hanuman Chalisa — now.
The answer is that he realised that the BJP'S aggressive pitch of Kejriwal and Amanatullah Khan being principal backers of the anti-CAA protests is resonating with the public. Reports of the PFI pumping money and other logistical support to keep the arterial Noida-South Delhi road blocked and protest going for over 50 days and thereby causing hardship to lakhs and Sharjeel Imam’s call to cut off North East from the rest of India has brought the BJP into contention for the Delhi polls.
The BJP has an assured support base of 30 to 36 percent in the state and the AAP is worried that number of fence-sitters could shift to the BJP. Kejriwal's recitation of the Hanuman Chalisa is part of a counter-narrative he intends to build.
The issue is not to predict a win or loss for AAP or BJP but to highlight that what was considered a myth until half a decade ago has become reality and that even the perceived front-runner has to play to Hindu sentiment.
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Updated Date: Feb 06, 2020 21:58:43 IST