In an unusual defence of the Khadi Village and Industries Commission (KVIC) – better known as Khadi Gramodyog – “deleting” Mahatma Gandhi on the KVIC's 2017 calender, printing instead the photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP has said that Modi alone has “followed” the Mahatma as no one else, “whether it is Gandhi's spectacles or thoughts.”
Issued by the Gujarat BJP, known to be more “Modi”-fied than any state unit of India, a statement signed by its spokesperson Bharat Pandya, said, BJP under Modi has been a “bigger follower" of the Mahatma than Congress, adding, this can be seen from what Modi as chief minister did in Gujarat.
Rolling out one example after another of Modi "following" Gandhian ideology, BJP said, “When Modi was Gujarat chief minister, he would inspire party cadres and people to buy khadi clothes on October 2."
Referring to the high-profile convention hall, being mainly used for the Vibrant Gujarat world business summits, as yet another sample of Modi following Gandhian ideology, BJP said, "It is under him along that the world-class Mahatma Mandir was constructed in Gandhinagar.”
Modi's defence comes amidst KVIC employees have protested, reportedly demanded reprinting the calendar, with critics throwing open questions like: Is Gandhi old and irrelevant? Is Modi the new father of the nation? And, how could the poster boy of the very ideology which killed Gandhi replace Gandhi?
While the Congress and other parties have already protested against the KVIC replacing Gandhi with Modi on calender, a top site run by Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has called the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) Modi the theme of Government of India’s official calendar for 2017 “an unprecedented display of hero worship and sycophancy”.
It insists, “As if that was not enough, Modi has also thrown the Gandhi out of the khadi, with KVIC replacing Modi “in the iconic charkha photo that had represented the values and ideals behind brand khadi, one of the largest rural arts, crafts and textile industry in India for over seven decades.”
Rolling out more samples of the Prime Minister following Gandhi's thoughts, BJP said, “Modi alone put in motion 'live' demonstration of Gandhiji's historic saga of life. Further: “Modi got a massive Gandhi charkha on display both at the Delhi airport and at the Vibrant seminars.”
The party further said, “After he became Prime Minister, Modi used Gandhian ideology for his Swacch Bharat (Clean India) campaign, even as providing a symbolic significance to the Mahatma's spectacles. To spread Gandhian ideology, Modi intensively propagated Gandhi charkha and spectacles.”
Saying that things would not have turned “so controversial” if the calender had the photograph of Prime Minister or President of some other country, or of film actor or some other VVIP, BJP said, “The controversy has been created by the Congress only because it was Modi's photograph on the KVIC calender.”
The BJP's justification has come following the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) being anonymously quoted that the controversy is "baseless and unnecessary". Quoting “PMO sources”, a report said, “In 1996,2002, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016 Mahatma Gandhi photograph was not there on calendar"
The PMO was further quoted as saying that “there is no rule in that only Mahatma Gandhi's photo must be printed on the calendar," even as justifying the Modi photograph saying, "Modi is a youth icon and he is the reason behind the increasing popularity of khadi products among the youths."