Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays his respects at a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in front of the Indian embassy in Washington on September 30, 2014.
NICHOLAS KAMM—AFP/Getty Images
By Kate Samuelson
January 13, 2017

Indian government workers have been protesting after Mahatma Gandhi‘s picture was replaced with images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in their department’s official calendar.

Staff at the government’s Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) are reported to have staged a “a silent soul-cleansing” at the Mumbai headquarters.

The Khadi department works to support village-level industries, a scheme close to Gandhi’s heart. Khadi itself—a hand-spun, hand-woven Indian cloth—was used by Gandhi, the preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement, as a symbol for unity, empowerment and liberation.

KVIC’s chairman, Vinai Kumar Saxena, told the Times of India that this is not the first time that the department has not used Gandhi’s image on official merchandise. “It is not compulsory and there is no rule [on having Gandhi’s image],” he said. According to the paper, KVIC calendars for 1996, 2002, 2005, 2011 , 2012, 2013 and 2016 did not carry any image of Gandhi.

“We are pained at this systematic easing out of Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas, philosophy and ideals by the government,” a KVIC employee said, according to the ToI. “We are not against inclusion of Modi’s picture on the dairies and calendars, but are pained not to find Gandhi’s picture.”

Write to Kate Samuelson at kate.samuelson@time.com.

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