Modi declares India ODF, Shah leads march on Gandhi’s life, times
On the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on Wednesday, the BJP and the Opposition parties, including the Congress, jostled to stake claim to his legacy as ruling party chief Amit Shah launched a nation-wide exercise to propagate his ideals while Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had a dig at it, saying the Mahatma’s soul would have been pained by what has been happening in India under the present dispensation.
The Modi Government Government and the BJP went all out to lay claim to his legacy with Modi declaring the country open defecation-free and Shah leading a ‘padyatra’ as part of the party’s four-month-long exercise to reach out to the masses and inspire them to follow ideas and ideals of the Father of the Nation.
The entire top leadership of the BJP took part in a a range of programmes, events and “padyatras” highlighting Bapu’s life and times. Modi said the nation expresses its gratitude to Gandhi for his everlasting contribution to humanity.
“We pledge to continue working hard to realise his dreams and create a better planet,” Modi wrote on Twitter.
Speaking at a “Swachchh Bharat Diwas” programme at Sabrmati Ashram in Gujarat Modi said the world appreciated India for providing toilets to over 60 crore people.
When Modi launched the ambitious Swachh Bharat (Clean India) campaign after becoming the Prime Minister in 2014, he had announced October 2, 2019 as the day India will be open defecation free (ODF), citing how Gandhi had laid immense stress on cleanliness and wanted the countrymen to pursue it.
“Today rural India and its villages have declared themselves ‘open defecation-free’,” he said. In a short video on Gandhi, Modi said his message of peace is still relevant to the world community.
The PM also referred to the seven perversions Gandhi had cautioned people about. These are: Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, visit without ethics, science without humanity, religion without sacrifice and politics without principles.
Modi also wrote 931-word Op-Ed in New York Times titled “Why India and the World Need Gandhi” wherein he wrote, “As a tribute to Gandhi, I propose what I call the Einstein Challenge… How do we ensure the ideals of Gandhi are remembered by future generations? I invite thinkers, entrepreneurs and tech leaders to be at the forefront of spreading Gandhi’s ideas through innovation.”
Earlier in the day , Modi paid homage to Gandhi at Rajghat and later, he visited the Sabarmati Ashram and addressed a gathering in Ahmedabad.
Top BJP leaders — such as Shah, party working president JP Nadda and Union Minister Prakash Javadekar — undertook ‘padyatra’, Gandhi’s favoured way to reach out to the masses, as part of “Gandhi Sankalp Yatra” as they gave a call to people to follow the ideals of the Father of the Nation.
Shah asked people to follow the PM’s call to shun single-use plastic and said he is the only PM who has made cleanliness a mass movement, after Gandhi. Pointing to the perils of single-use plastic, the BJP president said it takes nearly 400 years for it to degrade.
Addressing a rally at the start of the ‘Sankalp Yatra’ Shah said even animals are adversely affected due to single-use plastic. After flagging off the nationwide ‘Sankalp Yatra’, he undertook a foot march for around 500 metres.
BJP leaders, MPs, MLAs, organisational leaders and other party members undertook 2-km-long foot march and spoke about non-violence, peace, use of khadi and cleanliness in events held across the country.
In the run up to Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, Modi had given a call to his party, particularly to MPs and MLAs, to make the day memorable and asked its leaders to organise events and foot marches commemorate the day in their cosntituencies.
BJP which has already brought Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, a Congress leader, in its political pantheon and installed his statue, one of the tallest in the world, in Gujarat, is trying hard to move closer to the Mahatma. A major effort in the direction was initiated by Modi in his first term as PM when he launched ambitious ‘Bharat Swachh Abhiyan’ , largely inspired by Gandhi’s life-long focus on cleanliness and personal hygiene.
Thursday, 03 October 2019 | PNS | New Delhi
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