Employees of the Khadi Village Industries Commissioner (KVIC) have threatened to launch an indefinite hunger strike from January 26 demanding “corruption-free KVIC” and to ensure that Mahatma Gandhi’s pictures always appear on its annual calendars and diaries. The Shiv Sena-led Khadi Gramodyog Karmachari Sena (KGKS) employees union has also taken strong umbrage at KVIC management’s attempt to penalize the workers who took part in a silent lunch-hour demonstration on January 12.
The employees were protesting the abrupt decision of KVIC to replace Gandhi’s photos with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s on the 2017 wall calendar and table diaries – sparking off a huge controversy. “We are ready to sacrifice ourselves to the cause of upholding Gandhiji’s ideals for which the whole world reveres him. It will be an honour to die for Gandhiji, whose death anniversary falls on January 30 and ensure KVIC is made ‘bhrashtachar-mukt’ (corruption-free),” a union leader told IANS today.
The KVIC decision has been vociferously condemned by all political parties, including ruling Bharatiya Janata Party ally, Shiv Sena, besides the masses, prominent Gandhians and celebs. “This is now our party issuea We shall take it up accordingly,” said senior Shiv Sena leader and spokesperson Anil Desai here late Friday.
Earlier this week, KGKS President and MP Anandrao Adsul said he has already asked the KVIC management to desist from punishing the employees who had staged a peaceful, Gandhian form of protest. He also asked whether the KVIC had taken official permission from the PMO to dump Gandhi’s pictures and replace them with Modi’s.
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After certain media reports claiming the PMO had distanced itself from the Khadi fracas, the KVIC struck back at the employees and served a showcause notice to KGKS on January 16 asking whether it had taken aceprior written permission” to stage the silent protest on its premises. “The show-cause notice tantamounts to a dictatorial attitude of the management in a democratic country,” Adsul told IANS that evening, warning KVIC of an all-India strike.