Oppn-Govt spar over ‘Modi on Khadi calendar’ controversy

RSTV Bureau
FILE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. Photo - PTI

FILE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
Photo – PTI

With the opposition parties, especially the Congress, attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his photo appearing on the diary and the calendar of Khadi and Village Industries Corporation (KVIC), the PMO today termed the row as “unnecessary”. Prior to the Opposition parties, a section of KVIC had protested the exclusion of Mahatma Gandhi’s photo from the diary.

The Khadi workers, however, said they have no objection to Modi’s picture appearing on Khadi calenders and diary.

Reacting on the controversy, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) stated “there is no rule in KVIC that it’s diary and calendar should have only Gandhiji’s photo,” besides dubbing the issue as “unnecessary”.

The PMO also claimed that in the past too, 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,” PMO said, as reported by the news agency PTI.

Calling Modi a “youth icon”, the PMO added, “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”.

FILE: New Delhi: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during their joint press conference in Delhi, December 27, 2016.  Photo - PTI

FILE: New Delhi: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during their joint press conference in Delhi, December 27, 2016.
Photo – PTI

Earlier, strongly criticising the Prime Minister over the issue, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi called it “Mangalayaan effect” sharing his remark on the micro-blogging site Twitter attaching a news report on the controversy.

While Congress party chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “Khadi & Gandhiji are symbols of our history, self-reliance & struggle. Removing Gandhiji’s photo is a sacrilegious sin.”

Adding to the criticism, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee 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???” she asked.

Meanwhile, responding to sharp criticism, the ruling party also cited spike in Khadi products sale ever since Modi took over the office.

“Can anyone deny how hard Prime Minister is working to promote khadi across different platforms in the world? Can the Congress deny that the sale of khadi grew by upto 5 times under the current government?” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said rebutting the Opposition criticism.

(With inputs from the agencies)