Haryana Minister adds to ‘Modi on Khadi calendar’ row

SansadTV Bureau
FILE: Haryana Minister and BJP MLA Anil Vij during polls.  Photo - PTI

FILE: Haryana Minister and BJP MLA Anil Vij during polls.
Photo – PTI

Haryana minister and five-time BJP MLA Anil Vij added to the controversy over Prime Minister Modi featuring on the Khadi calendar, saying Mahatma Gandhi’s image did not help Khadi and caused devaluation of the currency. Facing a string of strong criticism, Vij later withdrew his controversial remarks.

“Gandhiji’s name has no patent over Khadi. Since Gandhi’s name has been attached with Khadi, it has only gone down… It is a good move to replace Gandhi’s image with Modi,” Anil Vij told the reporters today when asked about the controversy over Modi’s photo.

“When Gandhi’s image was put on notes, the currency also got devalued,” the Ambala Cantt MLA said, adding further “Modi is a better brand than Gandhi. With the Modi brand name, Khadi sales increased…”

However, he didn’t stop at that and even suggested replacing Mahatma Gandhi’s photo on the currency notes.

“It will also go gradually,” he replied when asked why the BJP government continued with Gandhi’s image on the new currency notes introduced after demonetisation.

Strong criticism followed his remarks with Tushar Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson, alleging that it was a “well orchestrated” campaign and the minister was speaking the language of RSS.

Condemning Vij, the Congress said Gandhi “can be killed, his photographs can be removed but he remains in the soul of India”.

“Subjugate people and institutions and use the power of the state to stifle every dissenting voice but Modiji, Anil Vij and BJP must remember that Mahatma Gandhi, you can kill him, you can remove his photograph, you can abuse Mahatma Gandhi, but Gandhi has always lived in the soul of India,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said attacking the ruling party.

Meanwhile, an embarrassed BJP and Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar distanced themselves from Vij’s remarks. “We condemn these remarks. These are his personal comments,” BJP spokesperson Shrikant Sharma said.

While, Haryana Chief Minister said the remarks have been made by the Minister in his personal capacity and the party does not endorse them and has nothing to do with them.

Facing flak over his words, Vij later withdrew his remarks, saying, “The statement given by me in connection with Mahatma Gandhi was given in my personal capacity. To avoid hurting anyone’s sentiments, I am withdrawing it,” on Twitter.

(With inputs from the PTI)