A day after Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator Saurabh Bhardwaj announced that he would be making a formal representation to concerned authorities about getting a statue of Lord Hanuman built at the upcoming Ram Temple in Ayodhya, many social media users expressed their anger over the perceived change in party’s political strategy following its Feb 11 election triumph.
“Thousands of people have been sending me messages since we did Sundar Kaand announcement. Crores of Hindus want a Lord Hanuman Idol at Ayodhya Temple Complex. It's a small and humble demand,” Bhardwaj, AAP’s national spokesperson and MLA from Greater Kailash, said on Thursday.
Reactions to his announcement ranged from some labelling AAP as “B-team” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to some of his constituents expressing their outright anger.
“I regret voting for this man. It has escalated quickly from Hanuman Chalisa to now a statue. We will remember the next time you come asking for votes, journalist Vidya Krishnan wrote on Twitter, tagging Delhi’s three-term Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in her post.
I regret voting for this man. It has escalated quickly from Hanuman Chalisa to now a statue. @AamAadmiParty @Saurabh_MLAgk we will remember the next time you come asking for votes. @ArvindKejriwal https://t.co/nzEUGbMezC— Vidya (@VidyaKrishnan) February 21, 2020
Another Twitter account with 1.05 lakh followers, Nehr_who, noted the change in Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) political rhetoric following their thumping election victory on Feb 11.
“AAP is unapologetically showcasing soft Hindutva now. Everything in Indian politics changed forever after 2014,” wrote another Twitter user.
AAP is unapologetically showcasing soft hindutva now. Everything in Indian politics changed forever after 2014. https://t.co/wbn7of7C6U— ॐ nefeli- self quarantined -bata ௐ (@vellichorIN) February 18, 2020
Well thought out strategy?
Some Twitter users see AAP’s embracing of the Hindu deity as a well thought out political strategy.
“The soft Hindutva position of AAP is a well thought out strategy to counter the narrative that BJP will build up post-Mandir construction. Can AAP become a national alternative; can they eat into BJP's vote share, and can PK (political strategist Prashant Kishor) bring together other parties will be interesting to watch (sic),” said a Twitter user Partha Ghosh
The soft Hindutva position of AAP is a well thought out strategy to counter the narrative that BJP will build up post Mandir construction. Can AAP become a national alternative, can they eat into BJP's v/share, & can PK bring together other parties will be interesting to watch— Partha Ghosh (@heyyparth) February 21, 2020
Interestingly, AAP’s National Executive reportedly held talks on expanding the party’s footprint beyond the National Capital on Feb 16, the same day when Kejriwal was sworn in as the capital’s CM for the third consecutive term.
The party is believed to be actively considering contesting local body polls across the country in coming months and years, obviously buoyed by his triumphant performance in Delhi.