Indian religion

Arvind Kejriwal on Hanuman Temple visits as the politics of religion: ‘Everyone should go’

New Delhi:

AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal said today that ‘everyone should visit temples and pray to whatever God they believe in’ when asked about his display of religious devotion, in especially his visits to the temples of Lord Hanuman, as a political strategy.

“Other people don’t go to Hanuman mandir. I say everyone should go. I also say this to children. When I was a child, I used to read Hanuman Chalisa several times a day. Have faith, pray, believe in God, it is very good.” the Delhi Chief Minister said when asked questions at the NDTV town hall in New Delhi.

He was asked if his show of faith puts him on the same path as other parties for the votes, even though he started out with more idealistic claims to focus only on development.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at the NDTV Town Hall in New Delhi on Friday.

“People say ‘you got lost’ but I feel like I got back on track by going to Hanuman temples. What’s wrong with reading Hanuman Chalisa? If you are depressed or not feeling too well in life, Hanuman Chalisa can help you,” he said.

He added: “Everyone should go to temples, pray to the God you believe in… some have faith in Hanuman-ji, some believe in Shiv-ji or Lord Ram.”

Lord Ram has been at the center of the BJP’s politico-religious discourse in addition to its demands for development-oriented politics. And the AAP has in recent years been accused of using its own version of Hindutva – visibly reinforcing its devotion to Lord Hanuman, considered Lord Ram’s most loyal disciple.

Recently, the AAP’s stance against the rehabilitation of Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar in Delhi has been seen as yet another move to bolster the BJP by appealing to a right-wing Hindu voter base. But the AAP insisted they were undocumented intruders. Faith is a personal matter, which does not color AAP politics, the party leaders said.

At the NDTV town hall today as Mr Kejriwal outlined his plan as he made a speech in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Gujarat – where the AAP hopes to end BJP rule in later elections this year – he put education as the main agenda.

“If you want negativity, corruption, blame games, you can vote for others like BJP and Congress. But if you want schools, hospitals, a better future for your children, we can bring that to you,” he told the audience.

The BJP and Congress insist that the Delhi model of the AAP is “more propaganda than reality”.

To Congress’ allegation that the AAP is “the B-Team of the BJP” that only wants to weaken the opposition, he replied, “Frankly, you’re telling me… Do you need me to weaken Congress? Isn’t Rahul Gandhi enough?