No One Can Replace Bapu

By Sunil Dang

Amid confronting opposition anger over images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi spinning the charkha instead of Mahatma Gandhi on the 2017 calendars and diaries of the state-run Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC), various sections are giving varied reasoning over the matter. But, in my view, it indicates that Modi is trying to delist himself from the leagues, which figures Congress icons, especially Nehru-Gandhi family men. The way Modi government has been busy renaming different government institutions named after the Nehru-Gandhi family, it indicates that he is trying to erase the title Gandhi from Indian minds. He has been renaming various welfare schemes (originally named after Nehru-Gandhi clan) into Pradhan mantri’s name. Since, he is the Prime Minister he has replaced Nehru and his successors from the posters of those welfare schemes — an act of branding one’s image on the expense of public money. Since, people correlate title Gandhi with Nehru-Gandhi family, this attempt to replace Bapu from the annual calendar of KVIC should be seen as an attempt to kill the root from where Congress has been taking its life line.

Looking at this attempt from the political perspective, majority of the Indian political parties accuse Congress party for shunning away with Mahatama Gandhi’s legacy. They even accuse Nehru for misusing Gandhi surname by naming his daughter after Gandhi. Later on it became a tradition and each and every Nehru clan went on to take Gandhi as their surname. Thus, via KVIC, the move seems an attempt to showcase Modi in the same league which Nehru clans have been sustaining through the Gandhi surname. As Modi comes from the native state of Mahatama Gandhi, such preparation was initiated by the time Modi took over as the Prime Minister of India. Slowly but steadily, he established himself as the brand ambassador of the KVIC by churning Charkha on various occasions.

Today when Modi has replaced Bapu from the annual calendar of KVIC, he and his supporters have created an argument that today ‘Modijee is a youth icon’ and there is nothing wrong if he is showcased on the KVIC annual calendar because there are several instances when Gandhi’s picture was not on KVIC material. In 1996, 2002, 2005, 2011, 2013, 2013 and 2016, Gandhiji was not there on the calendar and diary. There is no rule that only Gandhi’s picture has to be on the calendar.

From psychological perspective, it expresses the kind of hatred Modi has for the first family of the Congress party. Though, he has looked following Indira Gandhi on various occasions, it looks that he is trying to create a space for himself where he should be remembered the way father of the nation is remembered. But, by replacing Gandhi from the KVIC calendar, the move seems to have backfired.

In fact, Modi supporters at KVIC failed to understand that in democracy, such acts won’t be enough to erase the love and affection people nurture for their idols. Bapu is an icon of peace not just for Indians but for whole world. Becoming Gandhi requires years of austerities. One cannot become Gandhi by acting to spin the Charkha, this would only result in ridicule. Modi has to realize Bapu’s charkha was the source of income for the poor people which he has reduced to a photo prop. Mahatama Gandhi had coined the idea of Khaadi to create platform for Swadeshi Movement which later on united the whole nation leading to the ouster of the British East India Company. The way Modi supporters at KVIC trying to justify this immature act, it looks that for them Congress is today’s East India Company, which is completely baseless and wrong. For political scores, it’s wrong to misuse Bapu and at the same time I would like to remind Modi bhakts, the day Modi would establish Khadi as a brand in the league of leading global apparel brands, people would automatically start recognizing him in the league he wish to see himself in future.

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