Haryana minister Anil Vij has kicked up another storm before the dust settled on a decision to replace Mahatma Gandhi with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the 2017 face of the government’s traditional handloom and cotton industry.
"Ever since Mahatma Gandhi's name has been on the rupee note, it has devalued... Slowly Mahatma Gandhi will disappear from the notes," claimed Vij, who is a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), NDTV reported.
The minister did not stop there. "Ever since Mahatma Gandhi's name has been associated with khadi [hand-spun cotton cloth], it has not been able to make any progress."
"The sale of Khadi products went down... Removing Gandhi and placing Modi's photo (on the khadi calendar) is a good step. Modi is a much better brand name. Since Modi's photo (on the khadi calendar) the sale of khadi products has gone up by 14 per cent," the BJP leader added, according to NDTV.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar quickly dismissed the comment as Vij's personal opinion. "It is his personal opinion and has nothing to do with the party," he said.
The comment also received backlash from congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala who, according to NDTV, slammed the BJP for Mr Vij's remarks and said, "Modi government is doing exactly what the British did. Subjugate people, subjugate institutions and use the might of the power of the state to stifle every dissenting voice. But Modi ji, Anil Vij ji and the BJP must remember that Mahatma Gandhi will always live in the soul of India."