Modi-fication of Khadi calendar unites Opposition, PMO dismisses row

A move by the khadi and village industries commission (KVIC) to publish Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photo on its 2017 calendar and table diary has triggered a controversy with the Congress and other opposition parties taking strong exception to replacing Mahatma Gandhi’s picture.

However, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) dismissed the controversy as “unnecessary”. KVIC chairman VK Saxena defended the move, saying there is “no rule or tradition” that only Mahatma Gandhi’s picture can be published on these items.

But the Congress and other parties refused to buy this argument and took umbrage over Modi’s picture spinning the charkha donning the cover page.

“The Mangalayaan effect,” tweeted Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Apparently implying that Modi was trying to take credit for KVIC’s promotion like he had allegedly done after the landing of India’s spacecraft Mangalayaan on the Mars.

“It is most unfortunate that such a thing has happened. Nobody can replace Mahatma Gandhi. These sorts of things do not define moral authority of the PMO,” CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.

“The great symbol of charka (wheel) and Mahatma Gandhi now gets replaced by Modi babu. In the calendar and diary of Khadi (KVIC) 2017, Modi replaced Mahatma Gandhiji. Gandhiji is the Father of the Nation. Modiji what???” West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said.

The AAP also attacked the PM saying, “It won’t be surprising if Gandhi’s image is replaced with that of Modi’s on currency notes… He has reduced himself to a megalomaniac,” AAP leader Dilip Pandey said.

The Mahatma’s great grandson Tushar Gandhi also expressed outrage and said, “Anybody can become an icon of anything but in order to be appreciated it has to be sincere.

It has to be ideological and not just a mere photo prop.”

“Now matter how much they pretend, they do not believe in Gandhian ideology. So there is no question of sincerity. This is just a desperate attempt to snatch Mahatma’s legacy,” he said.

But sources in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) diaries and calendars had not carried Mahatma Gandhi’s picture on several occasions. “In the calendars and diaries of 1996, 2002, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, there was no picture of Gandhi. So there is no question of Modi replacing Gandhiji’s picture.”

(With agency inputs)

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