It comes off as no surprise that Mahatma Gandhi is PM Narendra Modi’s inspiration. Before the Lok Sabha elections, when Modi was interviewed by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, touted as a ‘non-political interview’, he shared his likes and dislikes. In the interview, he spoke about Gandhi being his inspiration. He was quoted saying, “I have always been inspired by Mahatma Gandhi Ji. Cleanliness is also important to promote tourism. Also, the construction of nine crore toilets is the nation's achievement, not mine.” Modi holds Gandhi in high esteem and a look at the programmes launched by him since he came to power at the Centre clears his attachment to the father of the nation. Incidentally, both, Mahatma Gandhi and Narendra Modi come from Gujarat. Congress had never neglected the role of Gandhi, but the PM is seen promoting his legacy since he became the PM in 2014.
Padyatras for BJP MPs on Gandhi birth anniversary
According to IANS, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 9 announced that all the BJP MPs must hold padyatras in all Lok Sabha constituencies and walk around 150 km from October 2 to 31, the birth anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel, respectively. Addressing the BJP's first parliamentary party meeting after the presentation of the Budget, Modi said the MPs must go also to the constituencies where the Bharatiya Janata Party is weak.
During the course of budget speech on July 5, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman mentioned about Gandhipedia. An official from Culture Ministry while speaking to IANS said, “The ‘Gandhipedia’ is being developed as a social media portal that will contain original works related to the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi.” According to IANS, in order to mark the occasion, a Gandhipedia is being developed by the National Council for Science Museums (NCSM) to sensitise the youth and the society at large about Gandhian values, Sitharaman had said in her speech. The Gandhipedia will be free for access to everybody. The project is at present being designed by the National Council for Science and Museums. It will be jointly implemented by IIT-Kharagpur and IIT-Gandhinagar.
Swachh Bharat Mission
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on October 2, 2014. The mission aims to clean up the streets and infrastructure of urban and rural areas. The mission also aims to eliminate open defecation by constructing 90 million household and community-owned toilets in rural India. The mission targets to complete the aim by October 2, 2019. In her budget speech, FM Nirmala Sitharaman said that the government is all set to achieve the target by October 2.
We all are aware of Gandhi ji’s love for khadi and how he would weave khadi on the spinning wheel. Modi has always seen promoting khadi wherever he can. In the 16th edition of his monthly radio address ‘Mann Ki Baat’, the first in 2016, Modi gave special emphasis for the revival of Khadi and village industries. He was quoted saying, “Our foremost values are reflected in khadi. Yesterday, on the occasion of Martyrs Day, I tried to reach out to as many as possible to tell them about Khadi. Khadi has become a symbol, a distinct identity in itself. Even in fashion, Khadi has made a place for itself. It is essential for Khadi to find a place in the markets of India. Khadi has the power to give livelihood for crores.” The address was aired on January 31, 2016. According to reports, the sale of products from Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has seen a rise from 6.7 percent to 33 percent over the last four years.
Inaugurated Mahatma Museum
On September 30, 2018, Modi inaugurated the Mahatma Gandhi Museum at the Alfred High School in Rajkot. The school is associated with the early years of Gandhi and is the same school where Mahatma passed his matriculation in 1887. After India’s Independence, the school was renamed Mohandas Gandhi High School. In 2017, the school was closed to convert it into a museum.
BJP MP from Bhopal, Pragya Singh Thakur on May 16, 2019, while speaking to ANI kicked up a massive row for calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a patriot. She was quoted saying, “Nathuram Godse deshbakht the, hai, aur rahenge. Unko antakwadi kehne wale log swayam ke girebaan main jhank kar dekhe. Abke chunav main unhe jawab de diya jayega.” meaning ‘Nathuram Godse was a patriot and will remain so. People calling him a terrorist should introspect. They will be given a befitting reply in these elections.’
However, the BJP quickly went into damage control and said Thakur should apologise for her statement. Later in the day, Singh’s spokesperson and BJP leader Hitesh Bajpai said Thakur has apologised.
If the statement by Thakur was not enough, Mhow MLA Usha Thakur made a statement that Godse was a nationalist and was concerned for the country.