Arvind Kejriwal’s problem is not money. He wants an ideology

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Arvind Kejriwal has found a way to save the rupee – to print images of God Ganesha or Lakshmi on the currency notes. If Islamic Indonesia can print a Ganesha image on its 20,000 rupee note, why can’t Hindu-majority India? he asks. From Mammon and Kubera! So the US dollar is staying strong not because of all the gold in Fort Knox, but because every bill or coin bears the words “In God We Trust.”

The divine dollar did not give the idea of ​​crores of rupees to Kejriwal. My guess is that the smart CM picked it up from the well-swept streets of Delhi. Delhi homeowners put pictures of the gods on the walls of their streets and at the corners of their stairs to prevent them from getting dirty with spit and worse. The gimmick works better than legal warnings and Swachch Bharat messages.

But what works for street walls and hallway corners need not work for banknotes. Any money changer in Daryaganj would tell you that 20,000 rupees kept by Indonesia’s Ganesha is worth only 106 Indian rupees, guaranteed by the RBI governor.

Kejriwal may not know this but his idea was tried by some medieval kings. Two were Muslims. Akbar struck coins showing Ram and Sita. The other – now Kejriwal must be kicking himself – was Muhammad Ghori, that Afghan who defeated Delhi’s last Hindu king Prithviraj and, following Rajput folklore, gouged out his eyes. Before placing his former slave Qutbuddin Aibak on the throne of Delhi, Ghori issued coins depicting the goddess Lakshmi. Pray, should the 2022 Modi mint do what the Ghori mint did in 1192?

Kejriwal’s problem is not money. He wants an ideology.

All parties have an ideology – left, right, centrist, sectarian, nationalist, etc. – or a regional identity. To that extent, AAP has not been a ‘political’ party, but a ‘citizen’ party. It does not practice politics, but citizenship – specifically the citizenship of what citizens should receive from the state and what they should give to the state.

This worked in Delhi’s middle-class civic politics, where civic problems are more prominent in electoral discourse than political issues. Making a splash in Punjab and now Gujarat, Kejriwal needs an ideological identity.

Which one to choose? Not a leftist. In the binary of society versus the individual, leftists lean toward society. VET is individual or citizen-oriented.

Not the right. Without any economic philosophy, AAP cannot be economic right like the British Conservatives, the American Republicans or the dead Swatantra.

Then there are the sectarian rightists who espouse identity nationalism – the BJP, UK Independents, France’s National Rally etc.

Although it is not one, AAP carries elements of all of them. She believes in left-wing welfare policies, whereby the state distributes wealth to citizens (not necessarily to society). Free energy, water, schools, transport and clinics are all bounties given by a left-leaning administration to its citizens.

Flip the coin and find elements of classical rightism in the AAP’s inclination towards individual rights. Her support for the right to information, demanded by a state that bans it, and her campaign against bribery officials have all been right-wing causes.

Finally, Kejriwal is opting for the third. He is moving towards identity or the majoritarian right. He has sacked a minister who desecrates the god, openly recites Hanuman chalisa, claims to share his birthday with Lord Krishna, pays for pilgrims in progress, makes a replica of the Ram temple in Delhi and is now seeking gods for tens of lakhs.

The million rupee question is: Will these work in Gujarat?

prasannan@theweek.in

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