The Prime Minister’s Office on Friday said the controversy around Narendra Modi’s picture appearing on the Khadi and Village Industries Commission’s diaries and calendars was “unnecessary”, PTI reported. This comes a day after several workers of the commission protested in Mumbai saying that Gandhi was inextricably linked to the khadi movement.

The PMO said there was no rule in the KVIC that its diary and calendar should only have Gandhi’s photo, PTI reported. The PMO also argued that in the calendars and diaries of 1996, 2002, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2016, there was no picture of Gandhi.

Khadi sale was restricted to 2% to 7% during the Congress rule, PMO sources told PTI, adding that in the last two years, its sale has seen an unprecedented jump of 34%. “Modi is an icon of the youth and the growing popularity of khadi in the world is testimony to this,” sources told the news agency.

A controversy erupted on Thursday after Modi’s picture was featured in the KVIC calendar. The prime minister is seen spinning the charkha in the photo. A senior official of the commission said the decision to print Modi’s picture was taken to “commemorate the historical moment” when the prime minister distributed 500 charkhas among women in Ludhiana in October last year.

“The pages of the calendar are month-wise and in just one page Modi’s photo is there,” said Union Minister Kalraj Mishra. “Gandhiji has his own place, nobody can take it.”

Opposition leaders also soon reacted to news of the calendar. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said, “The great symbol of charka and Mahatma Gandhi now gets replaced by Modi babu...Gandhiji is the Father of the Nation. Modiji what?” Khadi and Gandhiji are symbols of our history, said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, adding, “Removing Gandhiji’s photo is a sacrilegious sin”.