The Aam Aadmi Party, led by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, will take out a “Tiranga Yatra” September 14 in Ayodhya with likely pitstops at the Ram Lalla temple and, en route to it, at Hanumangarhi.
Coming after its introduction of a “Deshbhakti” course in schools, “embedded” in Constitutional values, AAP leaders said, the message behind the yatra is to distinguish the party’s framing of Hindu identity, religion and nationalism in “very different” terms from the “divisive” version of the BJP’s.
Significantly, this comes as AAP is trying to make inroads in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Uttarakhand, where it has fielded former Indian Army Colonel Ajay Kothiyal as its Chief Ministerial face with a promise to turn the hill state into the “spiritual capital for Hindus”.
In the run-up to the Ayodhya event, Singh said, AAP will also hold Tiranga Yatras in Agra on Sunday and Noida on September 1.
Bid to steal ‘Hindutva’ thunder
AS the BJP accuses the Opposition of minority appeasement, AAP says it’s reframing nationalism very differently — linking Hinduism, Tricolour to “good governance and education”. This comes as it eyes other states, including UP.
Sisodia and Singh, who is the party’s Uttar Pradesh in-charge, will attend both rallies.
In Delhi, the AAP-led government is getting 500 high-mast Tricolours installed across the city at a cost of Rs 85 crore.
“The party will organise a series of events over the next one year to mark the 75th year of India’s independence. The message is simple: the BJP’s so-called nationalism is making India sick. The AAP believes nationalism is about offering people their rights. Be it good education or robust healthcare. For us, love for the Tricolour manifests itself in the form of a vision for the country, its development and the well-being of its citizens. It is about finding solutions to the most pressing issues of our times such as unemployment,” Singh told The Sunday Express.
Singh, who was among the first political leaders to question some land-purchase deals for the upcoming Ram Temple at Ayodhya, said the campaign might be scaled up and cover all 403 constituencies in UP ahead of the Assembly polls early next year. Another AAP leader said that a final decision on stops at the Ram Lalla temple and Hanumangarhi have not been finalised but these are “very much on the cards”.
Delhi Chief Minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal not only welcomed the Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya title suit case, he had announced that the Ram Temple will be brought under the ambit of the Delhi government’s pilgrimage scheme for senior citizens. Three days before the 2020 Delhi Assembly polls, when the Centre had announced the formation of a trust for the construction of the temple, Kejriwal had remarked: “There is no right time for good work”.
The AAP has announced that it will contest UP polls. In July, Singh had met Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav, which had sparked talks of seat-sharing, which the AAP has kept alive, saying “political alliances are not new in Uttar Pradesh.”
Said an AAP leader: “We are in UP for the long run. Unlike regional parties in the country’s east and south, a party with Hindi-speaking leaders and a base in Delhi cannot afford to have no presence in the Hindi heartland. And it is evidently clear that AAP has carved out a space in the minds of people through its work on education, health, and overall governance. But that politics of work will have to be peppered with our definition of nationalism and religiosity that does not involve hating or hurting others.”
In Uttarakhand, while announcing Kothiyal as the AAP’s CM face, Kejriwal had specifically underlined not just the latter’s credentials as a “deshbhakt fauji”, but also his role in the reconstruction of the Kedarnath Temple and surrounding areas which were hit by floods in 2013, lending him the sobriquet “Bhole ki fauji”.
In Delhi, where AAP is in its third consecutive stint in office, the party has steadily tried to reframe both nationalism and secularism. It introduced a dedicated curriculum in schools to “instil the spirit of patriotism and nationhood”. The curriculum – called ‘Deshbhakti’ — will be implemented across schools starting September 27.
The introduction to the curriculum’s framework defines “Deshbhakti” as a “celebration of pluralism and diversity of the people of India.” The answer to who is a “Deshbhakt,” it adds, needs to be situated in the Indian Constitution and its “values of liberty, equality, fraternity, justice, democracy, and secularism.”