In a major climbdown, the Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC) on Monday withdrew its show-cause notice to the employees for joining a demonstration to protest replacing Mahatma Gandhi's photos with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pictures in its 2017 diaries and calendars.
Late this evening, KVIC Deputy CEO Y K Baramatikar stated that in view of the explanation submitted by the Khadi Gramodyog Karmachari Sena (KGKS) and discussions held with the union leaders today, "the matter stands resolved."
"It is requested that the harmony and peace of the organisation should be maintained and it is expected that all KVIC officials of will work together to achieve the organisation's goals and targets in a peaceful and cohesive manner," Baramatikar said in the withdrawal letter.
Reciprocating, the KGKS led by Shiv Sena MP Anandrao Adsul, declared that its proposed indefinite hunger strike programme scheduled from the Republic Day, January 26, stands cancelled in view of the KVIC's move this evening.
The employees were slapped the show-cause notice for joining a silent peaceful protest on January 12 in the KVIC main hall to express their angst over replacing the pictures of Mahatma Gandhi with Modi.
The surprise development came hours after the 300-strong KVIC Officers Association (KVICOA) openly backed the move to drop Gandhiji's photos -- virtually going against the sentiments of the 2,800-strong protesting employees.
Significantly, the KVIC board meeting is scheduled to be held in New Delhi on Tuesday and any form of protest by Khadi employees on the country's Republic Day, and four days before Gandhiji's 69th death anniversary on January 30, could have been a major embarrassment for the government, a union leader explained.
The KVIC officers wrote to KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena dubbing the recent developments as "politics with malafide intentions to defame the organisation".
"KVIC does not need any certificate from miscreants or anti-organisation elements," said a letter sent by the organisation's General Secretary Babul Mandal.
The officers expressed solidarity with the chairman.
Speaking to IANS on Monday, Mandal expressed concern that unless checked immediately, "the matter may get escalated", which will be detrimental to the KVIC and its artisans in the villages.
"We are deeply pained by all this. We feel there should be a compromise formula to resolve this issue at the earliest," he said.
The KGKS had earlier demanded that Mahatma Gandhi should figure prominently on all calendars and diaries of the KVIC henceforth and the show-cause notice be withdrawn.
The KVIC decision on calendars and diaries has been criticised by major political parties including the Shiv Sena, a BJP ally, as well as prominent Gandhians, among them Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
Many have demanded that the entire lot of calendars and diaries be withdrawn and fresh ones printed bearing the pictures of Mahatma Gandhi.