Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photograph was used in the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) calendar and diary without seeking the sanction of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and an ‘upset’ PMO has sought an explanation from the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) on the matter.
Top government officials familiar with the PMO’s response to the KVIC issue, which has seen Opposition leaders such as Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal criticise the government, told that the prime minister has made his disapproval ‘clear’.
These officials also said this is not the first time the PM Modi’s photo has been used by public or private entities without seeking the PMO’s permission.
“This is not the first instance of someone walking the extra mile to impress or to show their association with the PM Modi,” a top official said.
KVIC is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament and is tasked with promoting the use of khadi in the country. Khadi is handspun and hand-woven cotton cloth, championed by Mahatma Gandhi during India’s Independence movement.
KVIC’s calendar and diary mostly use the iconic image of Mahatma Gandhi at the spinning wheel (charkha). But KVIC officials said this is not the first time their annual publications have not used the Mahatma’s image. Five times in the past, they said, images of ordinary citizens have been used in these publications.
A top KVIC official said the decision to use the PM Modi’s image was based on the judgement that he “was a popular face and has also been a staunch supporter of khadi”. “Last October, Modiji distributed 500 charkhas to women spinners in Ludhiana. It was then decided to print his picture on calendars to commemorate that event,” this official said.
KVIC chief VK Saxena, who was appointed by the National Democratic Alliance government in 2015, had recently said using the PM Modi’s image was “relevant to the core values” of KVIC and that the decision was based on the fact that Modi as PM has given a boost to khadi. He had said sales in 2015-16 had jumped 34%, a sharp rise from the 2-7% growth seen in the decade before that.