Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal continues to face criticism for suggesting images of a Hindu god and goddess – Ganesh and Lakshmi – accompany that of Mahatma Gandhi on currency notes. The Aam Aadmi Party leader made the suggestion – which he declared would help revive the Indian economy – in a televised appeal to prime minister Narendra Modi.

Kejriwal’s appeal was immediately panned by leaders from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Congress. On Friday, the Samajwadi Party’s Swami Prasad Maurya – a former BJP leader and Uttar Pradesh minister – joined that list and accused Kejriwal of championing the agenda of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological mentor.

Maurya claimed Kejriwal was ‘speaking only what the RSS is getting him to speak’ and accused him of siding with the BJP – the Congress called Kejriwal the BJP’s ‘B-team’ – in his ‘greed’ for votes ahead of elections in BJP-ruled Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

Maurya was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a programme in UP’s Ballia.

“Arvind Kejriwal neither has knowledge of the Indian Constitution nor does he know how to respect the secular Indian Constitution. Kejriwal’s complicity with BJP and RSS has become clear… (he) is speaking only what the RSS is getting him to speak. He is using language similar to that of BJP and RSS… good sense should prevail…,” he was quoted by news agency PTI.

Kejriwal made the contentious comments Wednesday in a televised post-Diwali statement.

“I am not saying this alone will improve the economy… many other efforts are needed… but those [efforts] will materialise if we have the blessings of gods and goddesses. If there is a photo of Lakshmi-Ganesha on our currency (notes), our country will prosper,” he said.

Maurya pointed out there crores of religious deities in the country and the government could not, therefore favour two over the rest. “What will happen to other religious leaders in the country?” he asked.

Earlier today, Kejriwal said he had written to the PM on this issue, stressing he had made the appeal ‘on behalf of 130 crore Indians’.

(With agency inputs)

By Shadab

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