The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Saturday demanded withdrawal of the controversial Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC) 2017 diaries and calendars in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi's picture "replaced" Mahatma Gandhi.
The great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Tushar Gandhi, also attacked Modi in a series of tweets in the wake of the KVIC diary-calendar controversy.
Demanding that a new lot of KVIC calendars and diaries be printed with Mahatma Gandhi's photos, NCP Mumbai President Sachin Ahir said here: "The NCP strongly condemns this blatant act and demands an apology from the PM. These calendars and diaries must be withdrawn immediately and printed afresh with the pictures of the Father of the Nation."
The party would launch an agitation against this, starting with a daylong protest near the Gandhi statue at Nariman Point on Sunday with participation of all wings of the NCP.
"We shall not permit a single outlet of KVIC to open in Mumbai till they replace the existing calendars and diaries with newly printed versions carrying pictures of Mahatma Gandhi," Ahir warned.
He said the KVIC act has created an uproar all over the country and the government must clarify the reasons how this "insult to Mahatma Gandhi" was perpetrated.
"The KVIC must answer whether Mahatma Gandhi is no longer acceptable to them for village development and swadeshi models he propounded," Ahir said.
Earlier in the day, Tushar Gandhi, launched an attack on Modi for "replacing" Mahatma Gandhi in the New Year calendar-diary.
"PM models for polyvastra (polyester). Bapu (Mahatma Gandhi) wore khaddar (khadi) to Buckingham Palace, not a Rs 10 lakh suit," Gandhi said in a series of sharp tweets.
Later he added: "The patronized and organised campaign to abuse Bapu by PeeliChaddis continues. I am certain they will be rewarded."
"Was PeeliChaddi ever made from Khadi?", he tweeted, referring to the RSS.
"Haath me Charkha, Dil me Nathuram. No sin in calling a spade a spade and a joker a joker on television," Gandhi said, and demanded shutting down the KVIC.
He was referring to his iconic great-grandfather's historic visit to Britain in 1931, when he met Britain's King George V and Queen Mary, clad in his trademark plain loincloth and a shawl.
In comparison, he implied Modi wore a controversial expensive suit during US President Barack Obama's visit to India in January 2015.
In an earlier tweet, Gandhi said: "Tera Charkha le gaya Chor, Sun le Bapu ye Paigaam, Meri Chitthi tere naam (Your spinning wheel has been stolen -- a message to Bapu)... First, Bapu disappeared from few Rs 2,000 currency notes, now he disappears from KVIC office and calendar. Replaced by Rs 10 lakh-ka suit loving PM."
Protesting the KVIC decision, Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam said it is "an insult to the Father of Nation".
"We strongly condemn this... and demand that the calendars be withdrawn immediately," Nirupam said in a statement late Friday night.
Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan termed it "an illness of self-patting" plaguing the government and demanded "an apology" for KVIC replacing Gandhi's photos with Modi's in its 2017 diaries and calendars.
"Mahatma Gandhi gave the message of "swadeshi" and self-dependence to the nation, for which the KVIC was formed in 1956... However, this government spares no effort for self-praises even if it's a wrong step," Chavan said in a statement on Friday night.
Decrying what he called attempts to remove the Father of Nation from different spheres, Chavan pointed out that "you cannot erase Mahatma Gandhi from the hearts of the people".
After the matter was first exposed on Thursday by IANS, the government and KVIC have been at the receiving end of the ire of masses and political parties.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)