Opposition parties on Sunday criticised Haryana minister Anil Vij’s comment on the ongoing khadi row and said that the Bharatiya Janata Party was against the ideologies of freedom fighters like Mahatma 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. This is the same government that supported the Britishers and not our freedom fighters,” Congress leader Meem Afzal told ANI.

He added that both the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh are known for stoking controversy before elections. “Whenever elections will be around the corner, you will find [the] BJP and [the] RSS making such statements. Their ideology is against the views of Gandhi and Nehru.”

The Nationalist Congress Party, too, agreed. “These people are against the ideas of Gandhiji. Such people were involved in Gandhiji’s murder [and] that is why they are saying all this. They are anti-Gandhi and anti-Nehru and will always remain so,” said NCP leader Tariq Anwar.

The Aam Aadmi Party, on the other hand, demanded that the government must take action against such “irresponsible” comments, reported The Times of India. Meanwhile, a few AAP activists staged a demonstration in Rohtak on Saturday against the minister. They blackened his posters and raised slogans against the Ambala Cantonment MLA.

Vij raked up a controversy on Saturday when he said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a better brand name for khadi than Mahatma Gandhi. His comments came after Khadi Village Industries Commission on Thursday put a photo of the prime minister on it calendars and diaries with a charkha, like Gandhi.

Later, he retracted and said the comments were his personal opinion on the matter. “To avoid hurting anyone’s sentiments, I take it back,” he added. The BJP condemned Vij’s remarks and distanced itself. “Gandhi is our icon,” said the party spokesperson.

However, Khadi Village Industries Commission chairman VK Saxena defended his organisation, and said there was no such rule or tradition that only Gandhi’s picture could be used in the calendars or diaries. “This whole controversy is unnecessary and out of the context,” Saxena had 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 500charkhas among women in Ludhiana in October last year.