Nation Current Affairs 13 Jan 2017 Modi replaces Gandhi ...

Modi replaces Gandhi on Khadi Gram Udyog's calendar; employees protest

Published Jan 13, 2017, 4:25 pm IST
Updated Jan 13, 2017, 7:15 pm IST
Mahatma Gandhi’s image was excluded from calendar cover and diary that shows Modi weaving khadi on a large charkha.
PM Narendra Modi spinning the charkha on the 2017 KVIC calendar. (Photo: Twitter)
 PM Narendra Modi spinning the charkha on the 2017 KVIC calendar. (Photo: Twitter)

Ahmedabad: Defending the move of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) to publish Prime Minister Narendra Modi's photo on its 2017 calendar and table diary, KVIC chairman V K Saxena said there is "no rule or tradition" that only Mahatma Gandhi's picture can be published on these items.

The explanation came amid protests from various sections of society especially Gandhians and from opposition political parties, who alleged that KVIC is trying to "replace" Mahatma Gandhi with Modi through such acts.


Refuting such allegations, Saxena claimed the Prime Minister's appeal actually helped in boosting the sale of Khadi and eventually helped lakhs of Khadi weavers.

"I want to first ask whether anyone can replace Gandhiji? Is Gandhiji's stature so small that he can be replaced so easily? He can... never ever can be replaced. This whole controversy is unnecessary and out of the context," Saxena said.

"There is no such rule or tradition that we can publish only Gandhiji's photo on our calendar or on the cover of diary. His (Gandhiji's) photo was not there in 2002, 2005, 2011, 2013 and 2016," the KVIC chairman said.


KVIC is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament. Saxena was appointed as Chairman of KVIC in October 2015 by the Centre.

In what came as a shock for many, Mahatma Gandhi's picture weaving khadi on a simple charkha wearing his trademark cloth has been replaced by Prime Minister Modi's picture in the same classic pose as that of the former.

According to Saxena, sale of Khadi has increased many fold after Modi appealed the citizens to embrace Khadi. "During the last 10 years, the growth rate of Khadi sale was around two to seven per cent. But, after the Prime Minister's appeal, it has gone up to 34 per cent in 2015-16. This had a direct impact on the lives of spinners, who are now getting sufficient work due to this sudden increase in demand," Saxena said.


He also said the cover photo of the Prime Minister is also "relevant to the core values" of KVIC.

"This photo was taken in Ludhiana on October 18 last year when the Prime Minister distributed 500 charkhas to women at an event. It was published in all major national as well as international newspapers. This photo itself serves as an appeal to citizens to embrace Khadi," Saxena said.

Employees and officials of KVIC have opposed the move to exclude the image of Mahatma Gandhi from the cover of calendar and diary that show Modi weaving khadi on a large charkha, in the same classic pose as Gandhiji's.


Yesterday, upset over Mahatma Gandhi's picture missing on the calendar of the KVIC, a section of its workers in Mumbai staged a protest, and sought to know why the image of the father of the nation was left out, while featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In a brief protest, dozens of workers associated with the KVIC, who gathered at suburban Vile-Parle, said they were raising the issue since Mahatma Gandhi has been the driving force behind the Khadi movement.

Meanwhile, Opposition parties across the board are outraged. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi reacted sharply on Twitter.


"Becoming Gandhi requires years of austerities. One cannot become Gandhi by acting to spin the Charkha, this would only ridicule them," Kejriwal tweeted.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed her dissatisfaction. "The great symbol of charka 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?" she said in a statement.

Rahul Gandhi called it the ‘Mangalyaan effect’, implying that Modi was trying to take credit for the promotion of khadi and village industries, an idea which had been close to the heart of the Father of the Nation, as he had allegedly done after India's spacecraft Mangalayaan landed on the Mars.


When India had became the first country in the world to land its spacecraft Mangalayaan on the Mars in its first attempt, Gandhi had alleged that Modi tried to take the credit for it when all the work on the ambitious project was initiated by his predecessor Manmohan Singh.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "Khadi & Gandhiji are symbols of our history, self-reliance & struggle. Removing Gandhiji's photo is a sacrilegious sin."

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said the controversy was "unnecessary" as "there is no rule in KVIC that it's diary and calendar should have only Gandhiji's photo."


PMO sources said in the past also, there was no picture of Mahatma Gandhi on such KVIC material. "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," the sources said.

"Those stoking the controversy over the issue should realize that during Congress rule of 50 years, the sale of khadi remained restricted to 2 per cent to 7 per cent but in last two years, the sale has seen an unprecedented jump of 34 per cent. This is because of PM's efforts to popularise khadi," they added.


The PMO said "Modi is an icon of the youth and the growing popularity of khadi in the world is testimony to this." The PMO said the KVIC diary and calendar has photographs of Modi distributing charkha among poor women, they said.

Location: India, Gujarat, Ahmedabad