Updated: November 14, 2020 05:15 AM GMT
Akshardham Temple is illuminated with 10,000 oil lamps on the eve of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in Gandhinagar, 30 kilometers from Ahmedabad, on Nov. 13. (Photo: Sam Panthaky/AFP)
Religion has graduated in India beyond the Marxian definition of being opium. In the politics of a country paradoxically billed as the world's largest democracy, religion has become a powerful tool.Ideologically, almost all Indian politicians now look committed to the pro-Hindu ideology of accepting India as Hindus' nation. But a very few like Arvind Kejriwal, the current chief minister of Delhi state, stood out. That was until recently.Kejriwal emerged as a politician in the last decade after his long campaign against corruption. Between 2015 and 2019, he presented himself as the chief apostle of Indian secularism against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's hardline pro-Hindutva politics. But in 2020 Kejriwal has been busy walking barefoot to temples and offering prayers. Kejriwal has decided to make a public spectacle of his newly found religious devotion to Diwali, India's biggest festival of lights. Political compulsion is the mantra of pragmatism.On the auspicious moment of the festive day on Nov. 14 evening, he wants Delhi's 20 million people to virtually join him and his ministers for prayers at the city's opulent Akshardham Temple."I, along with my ministers, will start the Lakshmi puja [worshiping goddess Lakshmi] at the time at Akshardham Temple, which will be telecast live by TV channels. I urge all Delhi people to turn on your televisions and sit down with your family to conduct Lakshmi puja," Kejriwal said in an audiovisual appeal.The change has stunned most of the more than 2 million Muslims in the city. Trader Naushad Ali in East Delhi used his cricket lingo to express the feeling: "It's a case of the fall of another secular wicket. A one time anti-corruption crusader should have avoided such political trappings."In February 2020 elections to the Delhi state legislature, Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (common man's party) won 62 seats in the 70-member house, defeating Modi's pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).Kejriwal's poll mandate showed that the new leader and his party could challenge and defeat the seemingly invincible BJP and Modi with secular ideologies and transparent politics.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.
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