INDIA 2024 India News Politics

Modi’s Gandhi Remark Draws Flak

Rahul Gandhi says, “Those whose ideological ancestors were involved in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi along with Nathuram Godse, can never follow the path of truth given by Bapu”…reports Asian Lite News

Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi triggered a social media storm with his remarks that the world did not know about Mahatma Gandhi until the 1982 movie Gandhi directed by Richard Attenborough came out, the Congress hit back reminding the PM that Gandhi was the most popular leader in the world during his time.

Modi emphasises that if Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela had been well-known figures worldwide, India should have ‘worked’ better to make Mahatma Gandhi a world-renowned figure. “Main duniya ghumne k baad ye kehe raha hoon, ki Gandhi ko tawajjo milni chahiye thi (After going around the world, I am saying that Mahatma Gandhi should have been made the focus of attention)

Modi, however, also claimed that Mahatma Gandhi had the ‘solution to several problems in India’.  He also highlighted his redevelopment plan, which was announced in March 2024 on the anniversary of Dandi March. Earlier, Modi had launched a master plan for the Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram redevelopment project in Ahmedabad. Modi emphasised his role as prime minister of India in the past 10 years by saying that he had created ‘tirth sthan’ (pilgrimage spots) for BR Ambedkar, the father of the Indian Constitution.

Modi’s comments sparked a political row.

“Mahatma Gandhi is the sun that gave strength to the whole world to fight against darkness.In the form of truth and non-violence, Bapu showed the world a path that gives courage to even the weakest person to stand up against injustice,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in a video shot in front of the famous Dandi march statue on Delhi’s Mother Teresa Crescent road.

“People whose world views are shaped up in shakhas (RSS branches), they will not be able to understand Gandhi ji. They can understand (Nathuram) Godse and adopt the path shown by Godse. Gandhi ji was an inspiration for the entire world. Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein… they all got inspired by Gandhi.”

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge accused Modi of lying.

“Those whose ideological ancestors were involved in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi along with Nathuram Godse, can never follow the path of truth given by Bapu. Now the lie is going to pick up its bag and go away,” he said in a post on X. Godse, right-wing activist, shot Gandhi dead on January 30, 1948.

Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Sitaram Yechury also condemned the remark.

“It’s shocking to hear PM Modi’s claim that the world only learned about Mahatma Gandhi after the 1982 film ‘Gandhi’. Father of the Nation, Gandhi never needed anybody to promote his unparalleled legacy as a symbol of peace and non-violence! Before Modi was born Gandhi was nominated five times for the Nobel Peace prize! He was never awarded as India was a colony under Pax Britannica!”he said.

Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi contested the PM’s claims.

“When Bapu visited England for the Round Table Conference. (American actor) Sir Charles Chaplin requested to meet Bapu and Went to Kingsley Hall to meet Bapu. Don’t believe me search for the photographs and Videos. This was much before Sir Richard Attenborough started making films,” he said on X, tagging the prime minister’s official account. Experts also underlined that Gandhi’s global legacy was established long before the 1982 movie.

Associate professor at Gandhi Research Foundation, Ashwin Zala, said that though movies helped people, especially the young, connect with Gandhi, his ideals had an impact on people beyond India’s borders.

“The movie was shot in 1982, the statement doesn’t have a ground reality. Gandhi’s ahimsa [non violence] was studied by more than 90 countries and championed human rights, justice, and achieved freedom on the basis of Gandhi’s ideals…Before the release of the movie, more than 100 countries had released postal stamps, coins, statues on Gandhi.”

Trinamool Congress MP Sagarika Ghose quipped on X, “Nobody knew about #MahatmaGandhi until Richard Attenborough made a film, says @narendramodi. Not surprising. Those obsessed with Nathuram Godse naturally don’t know anything about Gandhi.”

The BJP did not official comment on the matter.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, “I don’t know in which world the outgoing Prime Minister lives where Mahatma Gandhi was not recognized across the world before 1982. If anyone has destroyed the legacy of the Mahatma, it is the outgoing Prime Minister himself. His own government has destroyed Gandhian institutions in Varanasi, Delhi and Ahmedabad.”

This is the identity of the RSS workers that they do not know the nationalism of Mahatma Gandhi. It is due to the environment created by their ideology that Nathuram Godse killed Gandhi, Ramesh said in a post on X.

“The 2024 election has taken place between Mahatma bhakts and Godse bhakts. The defeat of the outgoing Prime Minister and his Godse bhakt companions is obvious,” Ramesh said.

Congress general secretary, organisation, K C Venugopal said Mahatma Gandhi is the greatest icon of modern history in the world. Even before Independence, he was a phenomenon that every colonised country admired and looked to for inspiration, he noted.

“Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, who Modi referred to in his ludicrous statement, were inspired by Gandhi himself. To think that a movie was required to popularise India’s greatest thought leader since the Buddha is not only ignorant, but also an insult to Bapu.

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