Haryana minister Anil Vij on Saturday stoked a controversy by saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a better brand name for khadi than Mahatma Gandhi, ANI reported. His comments come after Khadi Village Industries Commission on Thursday put a photo of the prime minister on it calendars and diaries with a charkha, like Gandhi.
He later said the comments he made were his personal opinion on the matter. “The comments I made on Mahatma Gandhi is my personal opinion, to avoid hurting anyone’s sentiments, I take it back,” Vij told ANI.
The Health and Sports Minister of Haryana had said that the industry had only seen fall in sales since Gandhi’s name had been associated with it. “Khadi has drowned,” Vij said. He claimed that after Modi turned his attention to khadi, the industry reported a 14% increase in sales. He further said that rupee had devalued because of Gandhi’s picture on the currency notes.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, however, distanced himself from Vij’s comments saying they were “his personal opinion and had nothing to do with the party”. Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson said the party condemned Vig’s remarks. “Gandhi is our icon,” the party said.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that such “objectionable and nonsensical” comments could only be expected from BJP leaders. Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi said the way corrupt politicians used money for ill-practices, “it will be good if Bapu is removed from notes”.
KVIC chairman VK Saxena sought to defend his organisation after the controversy erupted on Friday, and said there was no such rule or tradition that only Gandhi’s picture could be used in the calendars or diaries. “Is Gandhiji’s stature so small that he can be replaced so easily? This whole controversy is unnecessary and out of the context,” Saxena said.
A senior official of the commission had earlier said that the decision to print Modi’s picture was made to “commemorate the historical moment” when the prime minister had distributed 500 charkhas among women in Ludhiana in October 2016.