Waquar Hasan | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI – The Aam Aadmi Party’s thumping victory in Delhi assembly polls is being hailed as the victory of Secularism over the hate politics, and the victory of good politics over the dirty games. Arvind Kejriwal’s re-emergence as a popular leader with his party making a near-total sweep of the assembly seats is seen also as the defeat of the BJP’s communal agenda and exclusionary politics, set against the ‘inclusive’ politics of the Aam Aadmi Party.
However, anyone who closely watched the election campaign run by Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP this time would have noticed that neither the party’s spokespersons nor its candidates ever challenged the communal and hate politics of its principal rival, the BJP.
The campaign has heard many hate-filled and communally loaded statements from BJP leaders. None of these was countered by the AAP with any ‘inclusive’ argument. The policy of the AAP was to steer clear of such controversial subjects and play safe for its own electoral benefits.
The BJP was going all-out to demonize the minorities and fan hatred against them among the rest of the population. It was painting Muslims as villains and problematic. The BJP even posted fake news to target Muslims. Some BJP leaders projected Muslims as terrorists and their areas as hubs of terrorists. The AAP was expected to question this. However, the party made no effort to counter or check the BJP’s venomous assaults on Muslims. The regional party’s policy was to avoid any confrontation with the BJP on such matters.
Feelings are rife that if the AAP believed in the inclusive and secular politics, it would have stood up strongly against the BJP’s vitriol and dirty politics. The AAP avoided doing this. Instead, the regional party highlighted the causes of free water and electricity. It did little to ensure the society is free of hate-mongering and communalism.
True, Kejriwal took a stand against the discriminatory citizenship law and stated that this was unnecessary. But he avoided talking about the CAA. “If he has no guts to talk about the inclusive idea, which he himself advocated, what is point of his sole stress on bijli-paani,” is a question should be asked now.
Kejriwal did not talk about the Delhi Police’s brutal crackdown against the students of Jamia Millia Islamia. Nor did he make it a point to visit the university. The shooters affiliated to the Hindutva extremist groups opened fire in broad daylight at the protesters of Jamia Millia Islamia and Shaheen Bagh. In this context, Kejriwal failed to hold home minister Amit Shah responsible for the worsening of the law and order situation in the capital. He kept quiet only because it was happening in Muslim-dominated areas. Also, Kejriwal avoided talk about the Shaheen Bagh sit-in led by Muslim women protesting against the CAA; he rather went on to say that had the Delhi Police been under him, he would have removed the protesters from there within a few hours.
Nowhere were Kejriwal and his party seen countering the communal and hate politics of the BJP during the campaign. Rather, he was surrendering to the communal push of the BJP. The BJP was targeting AAP’s Okhla MLA Amanathullah Khan for no reason except that he was the prominent Muslim face of the AAP. In a response to that, Amanathullah was forced by the AAP to go underground. He was not seen campaigning or talking to the media. He did not campaign in any notable manner even in his own constituency.
When the BJP raised the issue of the Shaheen Bagh sit-in, Kejriwal agreed with them that the protest held no significance and the protesters should be urgently removed. When the BJP painted Muslims as a problematic community, the AAP stopped talking about it. The BJP does politicization of the religious sentiments, and this is well-known. Kejriwal too did the same as he started reciting Hanuman Chalisa in a TV interview and called himself “kattar deshbhakt”.
The anti-Muslim stands and politicization of religion are the foundations of BJP’s politics. Kejriwal too, in this campaign time, did both. The AAP succumbing to the BJP’s hate politics was all too evident. This is the politics being replicated elsewhere too; and other secular parties too are doing the same as what the AAP did, with the aim of defeating the BJP electorally. So, whichever the party wins elections, it is the BJP and its ideology that are the ultimate winners.