The Bharatiya Janata Party’s efforts to rewrite Indian history have received ironic support from social media jokesters.
Following the replacement of Mahatma Gandhi with Narenda Modi on the 2017 calendar of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission, Photoshop enthusiasts are creating memes that place the prime minister in historic (or funny) situations.
On Saturday, Bhartiya Janata Party MLA and a minister in the Haryana government, Anil Vij, said that Gandhi’s image was responsible for the rupee’s devaluation over the years and Modi was a better brand. Following an uproar, an embarrassed BJP hurriedly distanced itself by Vij’s statement.
The next day, Opposition parties criticised Vij’s comment and said that the BJP was against the ideologies of freedom fighters like Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. “[The] BJP wants to remove Gandhiji from everywhere, but they won’t be able to remove his image from [the] hearts of people,” Congress leader Meem Afzal told ANI. “This is the same government that supported the Britishers and not our freedom fighters.”
Defending the replacement, Chairman of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission VK Saxena said, “There is no rule or tradition that only Mahatma Gandhi’s photo can be used on our calendars or the cover of our diaries.”
The surprising replacement of Gandhi’s picture with Modi’s irked a section of KVIC workers who staged a protest at the Vile Parle headquarters in Mumbai on Thursday. The protestors told PTI that Gandhi was inextricably linked to the khadi movement. They argued that nobody should replace the Father of the Nation.
Photoshop has long been a popular choice for Modi’s supporters. During the 2015 Chennai floods, the Press Information Bureau, the “nodal agency for dissemination of information on government of India”, tweeted a photoshopped image of Modi making an aerial survey of the flood-hit city and adjoining areas. Readers were quick to pick up on the discrepancy and the image spawned several memes of Modi surveying things.