Shiv Sena, Congress, NCP blast at Narendra Modi over Khadi panel calendar

Replacing Gandhi picture with Modi an effort of BJP to enhance Narendra Modi's brand, MP Shashi Tharoor.

Mumbai, Jan 13: The ruling ally at the Centre and in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena and the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party on Friday sharply criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the manner in which his pictures replaced Mahatma Gandhi’s photos in the 2017 calendars and diaries of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission.

Reacting to the KVIC calendar and diary flaunting Modi in the classic Mahatma Gandhi pose with the charkha, Shiv Sena’s Lok Sabha member from Mumbai South Arvind Sawant said he was “extremely pained” by reading the news.

“Nobody would have objected if it was the PM Modi’s photo spinning Khadi on a Charkhaa. What is objectionable is yanking off Mahatma Gandhi’s photos and placing his photos instead. This is painful,” Sawant told media persons.

He remarked that the incident is “an example of what can happen when a person is so very ‘self-centred’ and obsessed”.

Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Narayan Rane lashed out at the development and said people have taken it very badly and will not forget it soon.

“Does he (Modi) think that by putting his pictures next to a Charkha will make him a great figure or a ‘Mahatma’? He can never ever equal Gandhiji’s status with such things,” Rane told media persons.

He added that after demonetisation, the Modi government has made “life miserable for the masses” and the reality cannot be changed with such gimmicks.

In a sharp reaction, senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar said this was Modi’s strategy to compare himself with great historical personalities.

“Can anybody be compared with Gandhiji or Jyotiba Phule, that’s why they are called ‘Mahatma’… Is there any comparison for Mother Teresa? Because of her greatness she was declared a Saint,” Pawar said in a sharp critique.

NCP’s women’s wing Mumbai President Surekha Pednekar said the people have strongly disapproved of this move to replace the Father of Nation’s photos with Modi’s pictures.

“Swadeshi, Charkha and Khadi were Gandhiji’s gift to the nation and an inseparable part of the country’s freedom struggle. After the RSS-inspired BJP government came to power, a conspiracy is underway to erase Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals and philosophy from India,” Pednekar said.

She led a large number of women and youth workers in a silent and peaceful protest near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Nariman Point on Friday afternoon.

Modi has also come under fire from the opposition parties across India and trolled on social media networks after the KVIC’s new calendars and diaries were released here on Tuesday.

The decision to replace Gandhiji’s traditional, iconic images and his teachings from the diaries and calendars snowballed into a major controversy with many even demanding that these publications be withdrawn and printed afresh with the Mahatma’s photos.

Calling it a “disgraceful sycophancy”, a prominent Gandhian from Odisha and Chairman of Utkal Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, Prahallad Kumar Sinha, termed the KIVC move as “adopting the footprints of Gandhiji’s killer”.

A group of agitated KVIC employees on Thursday afternoon staged a silent agitation to protest the move.