With just 5 days to go for the assembly elections in Delhi, Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal recited the Hanuman Chalisa during an event organised by a news channel. In a pre-poll event named Agenda Delhi organised by News 18 Hindi, the anchor had asked him if he visited Hanuman Temples, to which Kejriwal replied enthusiastically, “Of course I do”. Then, the interviewer proceeded to ask him if he knew the Hanuman Chalisa, to which, Kejriwal again answered in the affirmative. After a moment of awkward silence, Kejriwal was prompted to treat the audience with a rendition of the Hanuman Chalisa to which he readily agreed.
— News18 India (@News18India) February 3, 2020
Kejriwal’s stunt in connivance with a pliant media appears to be well-timed with the Delhi elections in his bid to prove his ‘Hindu credentials’ after his party MLA Amanatullah Khan was spotted leading the riots in the national capital during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests. Recently, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia had also said that they stand in solidarity with the protesters at Shaheen Bagh.
However, in his efforts to win Hindu votes, Kejriwal appears to have angered Islamists on social media. Islamists are also angry with the media for imploring Kejriwal to prove his Hindu credentials.
Liberal or conservative, only Hindus are allowed to display their religion in public. Baaqi Sab apna religion ghar pe chorh ke aao. Warna polarization ho jaayegi. https://t.co/kGheJtFME6
— Zedsdead (@DeadZedb) February 3, 2020
Kejriwal is asked if he memorizes the Hanuman Chalisa. He renders it. That was the most crucial test for him. Not the infrastructure, not the administration, not the education. That’s the reality of this fake secular democracy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
— علي (@OpusOfAli) February 3, 2020
Will @KishoreAjwani ask @narendramodi to recite any sacred verses or quiz him on religion or not? Or is the devotion to Hinduism of BJP leaders taken to be authentic and a given? https://t.co/q01Qv4DzQB
— ਪੰਜਾਬ ਨਾਗਰਿਕ (@akdwaaz) February 3, 2020
In recent weeks, the BJP has targeted Kejriwal heavily for his party’s conduct in recent times. Shaheen Bagh has become an important issue in these elections. The slogans of ‘La ilaha illallah’ and ‘Jinnah Wali Azadi’ heard at these protests against the CAA have polarized the elections. Despite all of this, the Aam Aadmi Party had decided to come out in support of these protests. Kejriwal’s recitation of the Hanuman Chalisa appears to be directed towards reducing the ill-will his party has earned for its support to the Shaheen Bagh protesters. It remains to be seen whether it has any positive impact at all on results day.