As the AAP asserts national ambitions, Kejriwal's new buzzwords are "Deshbhakti" and "Ram Rajya"

"Deshbhakti" and "Ram Rajya."

"Deshbhakti" and "Ram Rajya."

“We have changed Delhi…I have a pact with God that I will not die before seeing my country as the number one in the world,”  Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal stated at a farmers"mahapanchayat' in Haryana's Jind.Kejriwal urged farmers who have been demanding the repeal of three central laws to fight "till the end" and assured his audience that he is the same person "from 10 years ago" — an unmistakable allusion to his anti-corruption agenda,

which propelled him to political prominence.He outlined the actions he had done to help the farmers who had been camped out at key access points to Delhi since November, including opening 'langars,' supplying water tankers, and constructing toilets.“We have paid a huge price; they (the BJP-led central government) are punishing us for supporting the farmers’ agitation.

They have passed a law that inside Delhi, the elected government, the elected chief minister will have no powers, all powers are with the LG (lieutenant governor). Is this the reason why struggle for freedom was waged?” he said alluding to the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, which gives the LG, who reports to the Union Home Ministry, priority.In brief, Kejriwal stuck to his game plan: he attacked the then-ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), accusing it of creating roadblocks for his government, and he backed the ongoing farmers' protest.

Then, perhaps most importantly, Kejriwal posed as a "deshbhakt" (patriot), a strategy that experts say was lifted directly from the BJP's playbook in order to begin an attack on it.“The one who is with the farmers’ agitation is a patriot, the one who is against the farmers’ agitation is a traitor,” Kejriwal said at the rally. With his nine-year-old Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) hinting at national ambitions, Kejriwal is establishing himself as a "deshbhakt."Kejriwal said in January during the AAP's national council meeting that his party would run in elections in six states next year: Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, and Gujarat.

His visits to these states over the last few months have served as solid evidence of Kejriwal's reinvigorated attempt to go national.And the AAP believes that the first keyword that will assist it achieve its goals is "deshbhakti."So much so that on August 15, the eve of India's 75th Independence Day, Kejriwal stated that his government would implement a "deshbhakti" curriculum in Delhi schools.The curriculum, according to Kejriwal, is designed to achieve three goals: children should be proud of their country, they should be conscious of their responsibilities and duties to the country, and they should be willing to sacrifice in order to solve India's problems.The AAP has now announced ‘Tiranga yatras' in every assembly constituency in Uttar Pradesh, which is vital politically.

On Sunday, the first in the series was held in Agra. On September 14, the one in Ayodhya will take place.That's not all, though. If ‘deshbhakti' is the first pillar of the AAP's new approach, ‘Ram rajya' is the second - and possibly more important. These are the two principles that the party appears to be emphasising, along with the ‘Kejriwal model of development,' which emphasises free utilities like water and electricity, free Wi-Fi, free bus rides for women, and improved schools and hospitals, among other things.In March, during the budget session of the Delhi legislature, Kejriwal spoke of establishing a "Ram rajya," assuring older residents of free pilgrimage to the under-construction Ram temple in Ayodhya.According to senior writer Neerja Choudhury, Kejriwal is using the politically charged word to appeal to "the constituency represented by the BJP" She noted that opposition parties,

which have been pushed into a corner, are attempting to find a way out, despite the BJP's dominance of the political sphere.Kejriwal has not stated anything anti-Muslim, but Choudhury believes his fixation on "Ram rajya" could raise suspicions. But, she continued, it may be the risk the AAP is ready to accept.Kejriwal stated at the Delhi assembly that he is a devotee of Lord Ram and Lord Hanuman and emphasised ten principles that would guide a ‘Ram rajya' in Delhi. Hunger-free living, quality education for children, the best medical treatment for all, 200 units of free electricity for all, 20,000 litres of free water for each household, employment for all, housing for the poor, women's security, respect for elders, and equality among all castes and religions were among the principles.In other ways,

He emphasised that ‘Ram rajya' will imply good governance and higher living standards for all, and that it will not be excluding or discriminating.But Choudhury said ‘Ram rajya’ acquires a certain meaning in today’s context. “And that is where the question begins: how do they (opposition parties) identify with Hindus, their concerns and what they feel is their identity… and yet not be against other communities? That is a tight rope walk.” Choudhury said.Political analyst Geeta Bhatt said the concept of ‘Ram rajya’, in this instance, is based on “moral authority (naitikta)”.

“Now, that morality comes under question because he (Kejriwal) is talking in actual sense with respect to Ram rajya, especially when he said he will sponsor the elderly to visit the Ram temple once it has been built.”The reason, she argued, is that Kejriwal has not demonstrated his commitment towards the building of the Ram temple. “Of course that personal and (donation) amount is not important…(but) it is the thought, it is the commitment to the construction of the Ram temple that matters,” she said.Bhatt also questioned Kejriwal’s pledge of establishing a ‘Ram rajya’ in Delhi.

“The kind of crisis which we have seen in Delhi both waves of Covid…he has been reprimanded even by courts,” Bhatt said, pointing out that a ‘Ram rajya’ would mean people living in peace with access to all amenities.Nonetheless, the AAP appears to have settled on a plan for gaining national traction, something it has aspired to but has yet to do. It hopes that ‘deshbhakti' and ‘Ram rajya' will become trump cards in national politics, turning the tide in its favour. Most significantly, it hopes that its new catchphrases will resonate with Hindus, and that its social programmes and inclusive attitude would appeal to everybody, even minorities. It will take time to achieve that equilibrium, and only time will tell how Kejriwal and his AAP will perform.

Source: News 18

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