After facing backlash from all quarters, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Haryana Minister Anil Vij on Saturday has taken back his comments on the new Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC) calendar featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"The comment I made on Mahatma Gandhi is my personal opinion, to avoid hurting anyone's sentiments I take it back," Vij tweeted.
Amid political uproar over the new Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC) calendar featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vij had said that the former is a bigger brand name than Mahatma Gandhi.
"Since the time when Gandhi's name got associated with Khadi...it could not progress. The day Mahatma Gandhi came on the rupee, its devaluation started. Gradually, he will be removed from the notes also. It's good that Gandhi has been replaced with Modi...Modi is a bigger brand name. After Modi's association with khadi, there has been 14 percent increase in sale of the products," he said.
In a big development, Mahatma Gandhi's picture weaving khadi on a simple charkha, wearing his trademark cloth has been replaced by Prime Minister Modi's picture in the same classic pose as that of the former in the KVIC diary and calendar.
Vij's remarks drew flak from the Congress which said that the BJP has always spread hatred, adding that Prime Minister Modi is trying to end Gandhi's memory from India.
"The BJP is doing what the Britishers have done. Mahatma Gandhi is the soul of India. One can only expect such kind of objectionable and nonsensical statements from the BJP's leaders and ministers," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
Distancing itself from Vij's comment, the BJP said Mahatma Gandhi is an icon, adding that the saffron party condemns the remark.
"BJP strongly condemns statement of Anil Vij,its his personal remark & not party's stand. Mahatma Gandhi is our icon," BJP leader Shrikant Sharma told ANI.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar also said, "It is his personal opinion and has nothing to do with the party."
He further said,"We respect the father of the nation. He is a senior leader. It might be his personal opinion."
"Rupee devaluation did not happen due to Mahatma Gandhi. PM Modi spun charkha to promote khadi. This is symbolic. It does not mean that anybody can replace Mahatma Gandhi," Khattar said.