No, definitely not. The headline was just for fun.
But there are some interesting things happening. Ironically, neither Kejriwal nor BJP are playing a big role in this. It is about what is happening around them.
Take this headline.
A personal taunt and a jibe using Hindu icons? This is the template that most liberals use for BJP leaders. Unmistakable.
But Kejriwal is not a BJP leader. So what gives? Especially for a media that is yet to ask “best CM” a single question on his handling of Corona.
It is still early days, but the signs are emerging all around that there are now two distinct camps among liberals when it comes to Kejriwal. And this much predates the Coronavirus pandemic. Liberals were upset with Kejriwal for not speaking out against CAA & NRC. Even though he did speak against them. His “crime” was not speaking loudly enough. Till the Delhi elections, most liberals were still in the mood to cut him slack. But once Delhi election results came out and his political compulsions ended, liberals became more and more fierce against Kejriwal.
Again, it’s not like Kejriwal did something. Or BJP, for that matter.
Kejriwal was already on notice once he recited the Hanuman Chalisa. But that was before elections. After elections, the news of some AAP MLA holding Ramcharitmanas gatherings went viral. And that’s when liberals, already miffed, flew into a rage.
Golden boy has fallen from grace.
Let me rephrase it like this. Media has not turned against Kejriwal. Yet. But at the moment, media criticizes him more than any other non-BJP leader.
Kejriwal’s crime? Knowing the Hanuman chalisa.
There is a moment of clarity here. Liberal media isn’t just against BJP. They are against Hindus. And anyone who frames his politics in a manner that is even vaguely reminiscent of Hindus. Unless you are actively hostile to Hindus, media will turn against you.
In fact, that’s what BJP supporters are today. A group of people that no other party will take.
This reflects a fundamental change in what Indian ‘secularism’ means. A lot of people think liberals want the old Nehruvian secularism to return. But they don’t. Liberals have gone very far beyond that point. Even the Manmohan Desai style “Amar-Akbar-Anthony secularism” would be unacceptable to liberals today.
If that movie was made today, it would be labelled Hindutva propaganda. It has to be “Akbar-Akbar-Akbar” now. The old Nehruvian secularism has been replaced by hard Islamism. Nehru did not like Hindus, but a lot of people in his party did. He made peace with them. Not today.
Most Congress leaders of the bygone era would find their own party and its ecosystem completely unrecognizable today.
And AAP is breaking this cardinal rule. AAP is trying to play the old Amar-Akbar-Anthony style secularism. And liberals don’t want that any more.
It will be interesting to see how Kejriwal’s relationship with BJP evolves. Till now, neither side has made any overtures. But politics is about possibilities.
What makes Delhi so interesting is that it may be the first instance where BJP finds itself in the same position regionally as Congress in UP or Bihar or Bengal back in the 1990 and early 2000s.
The BJP is nationally dominant. But in Delhi, powerful regional leader has taken over. The BJP has mostly run out of ideas at the state level. The BJP still talks of winning Delhi, but it is beginning to sound more and more like Congress talking of winning back UP some day.
Back then, Congress was faced with a choice in UP or Bihar. Forget state level aspirations. Strike peace with the regional leader and get them on your side at the Lok Sabha level. So at the state level, the Congress became “opposition in name only.”
There is of course one difference. Congress faced this problem when it needed allies to rule the center. The BJP does not. In fact, the BJP could win even bigger in 2024, with Bengal and Odisha throwing in their full weight. So, the BJP can afford to keep fighting Kejriwal at the state level. Even if they keep losing. There’s no immediate downside.
But in the long run, who knows? Some day or other, the BJP’s influence in the Hindi heartland will start to wane. And then it might need allies as well. Nothing ever stays the same. And that day, Kejriwal will probably be one of the people that BJP looks to.