Competitive Hindutva is the flavour in election season with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday suggesting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the state of the Indian economy would improve if images of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha are printed on Indian currency notes.

 “We’re all witnessing how the state of the Indian economy is deteriorating. We’re all seeing that the rupee is becoming weaker in comparison to the dollar… Efforts bear fruit when the gods bless us. Yesterday was Diwali. We all prayed to Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi. All traders, businessmen keep idols of Lakshmi and Ganesh in their offices and pray to them before starting work. I issue an urgent appeal to the Centre and the Prime Minister on behalf of 130 crore Indians. Indian currency has Gandhiji on one side but on the other side, please print Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi,” said Kejriwal.

He went on to point out that a predominantly Muslim nation like Indonesia had Ganesha on their currency notes. “When they can have Ganesha, why can’t we have Lakshmi and Ganesha?” said the Delhi CM.

Strong reactions

The statement was met with strong reactions from both the Left Liberal side and the BJP. Former colleague Prashant Bhushan said Kejriwal was “trying to outdo the BJP in Hindutva politics”, while members of the BJP queried whether he now supports the call for turning India into a Hindu Rashtra.

“He should first say ‘ garv se kaho hum Hindu hain’ and then say that he supports Hindu Rashtra. After that he can shift from his belief from the secular country concept and put gods and goddesses on the rupee,” OP Sharma, BJP MLA from Vishwas Nagar, told  businessline. Sharma said Kejriwal had opposed the construction of Ram temple and Ram Setu and had turned towards Hindutva only because he is contesting elections in Gujarat.

Putting the images of Goddess Lakshmi on the rupee is an idea mooted by former BJP MP Subramanian Swamy in January 2020, saying this may “improve the condition of the Indian currency”.