New Delhi: The Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC) never published a material that carried a photo of Mahatma Gandhi, so the controversy over Prime Minister Narendra Modi "replacing" the photo of Bapu in the KVIC calendar and diary in "needless" and "baseless", sources said on Friday.
Opposition parties have been targeting the Prime Minister over his photo appearing in the 2017 calendar and on the cover of table diary of the Khadi Commission.
The sources, who declined to be identified, said the calendar and the diary issued by the KVIC in 1996, 2002, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2016 did not have a photo of Mahatma Gandhi, and therefore, there is no question of replacing his photo with that of Modi.
The sources said that the KVIC also does not have a rule that calendar diary should have a photograph of Mahatma Gandhi. They said Modi is a "youth icon" and growing popularity of Khadi among young people is a proof of this.
The sale of Khadi products increased by five to seven percent during the Congress rule, but the last two years have seen "unprecedented" jump in Khadi sales, with the increase now touching 34 per cent, the sources said.
They said the growth in sales has been possible due to the push given by Prime Minister Modi to acceptance of Khadi among people.
Modi`s picture on the KVIC diary calendar is from a programme in which he distributed "charkha" (spinning wheel) among poor women, they said.
IANS on Thursday reported about Modi`s picture spinning the charkha featuring on the cover of the KVIC calendar and dairy, instead of the iconic picture of Gandhi weaving Khadi on a charkha, wearing his trademark loincloth.
Opposition parties, including the Congress, the Left, Trinamool Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, slammed the change, asserting the "Father of the Nation" is "irreplaceable".