Modi Khadi row: When did Shiv Sena become a fan of Gandhi?

Now that it seems to care about Bapu, it should also clarify its stand on Godse.

 |  3-minute read |   16-01-2017
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Now that the PMO has distanced itself from the Khadi and Village Industries Commission’s (KVIC) decision to replace the iconic picture of Mahatma Gandhi with the portrait of a charkha-spinning Narendra Modi in its calendar and diary, the furore kicked up by the episode may die down soon.

While the KVIC said the decision was taken in view of Modi's emergence as a youth icon, the Congress and other opposition parties accused the government of trying to obliterate the legacy of the Father of the Nation. Responding to the entire issue, the BJP accused the Congress of creating unnecessary controversy.

But there seems to be more to the picture than meets the eye.

It wasn't Congress which first raised fingers at the KVIC, but the BJP's ally, Shiv Sena.

It has emerged that the group of Khadi Gram Udyog employees, who first raised objections to the picture, are members of a Shiv Sena-led union. The union leaders first noticed it last year when Gandhi’s photo was removed from the calendar and diary and brought the matter to the notice of the KVIC. They said they were told that it won't happen next year (2017). But little did they know that the cover photo will be replaced by Modi’s picture.

modi-thackeray_011617034953.jpg The late Sena Supremo, Bal Thackeray, was not exactly a fan of the Mahatma.

While the Congress too hasn't shown much interest in preserving the Mahatma's legacy, the Shiv Sena’s sudden love for Gandhi definitely comes as a surprise.

In Maharashtra, it's a well-known fact that the late Sena Supremo, Bal Thackeray, was not exactly a fan of the Mahatma and his non-violent methods of protest.

In 2010, the Sena had supported the mention of Nathuram Godse, the man who killed Mahatma Gandhi, in a souvenir published during the 84th Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, an annual literary meet of Marathi litterateurs .

The Sena mouthpiece Saamana's editiorial had openly questioned the intention of all those who raised objections. “Those who hate Nathuram are in love with Ishrat. Do they want Ishrat’s photo to be published in the souvenir instead of Nathuram?” the Saamana editorial asked.

Back in 1991, Bal Thackeray during the Lok Sabha elections campaign had openly praised Godse. Thackeray, whose party had entered into an alliance with the BJP then, had said: "Nathuram was not a hired assassin. He was genuinely infuriated by Mahatma Gandhi's betrayal."

So, why is the Sena suddenly hurt by the KVIC's act of disrespect to the Father of the Nation. A statement issued by the party shows the real reason behind its anger. The Sena directly attacked Modi as a response to the whole controversy. Sena MP Arvind Sawant’s statement almost held Modi responsible for putting his own image to promote Khadi. “If someone falls in love with himself, one can stoop so low, this is the example,” he said.

Surprisingly, all this was happening at a time when the Sena and the BJP are supposedly in talks for an alliance ahead of BMC elections. Following the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly elections, the nature of Sena’s attack on the Prime Minister has seen a major shift — it has become more personal. While the Sena had questioned the PM’s promotion of yoga (if yoga will bring down inflation) it also termed the Modi government as the worst in last many years. The party even called US president-elect Donald Trump as America’s Narendra Modi.

But coming back to the Mahatma, now that the Sena seems to really care about the Father of the Nation, it should also clarify its stand on Godse.


Sahil Joshi Sahil Joshi @sahiljoshii

Senior editor, India Today TV

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