New Delhi, Oct 2 (IANS) India remembered the father of the nation on his sesquicentennial on Wednesday with various events and ‘padyatras’, even as the day saw the BJP and the Congress trying to claim the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi in their tributes to him.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying tribute to Gandhi, with an early morning visit to Raj Ghat. Later, Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi and President Ram Nath Kovind, and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu followed in offering their respects at the samadhi.
Later, in the evening, Modi visited Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat where he said that Gandhi’s teachings offer solutions to any problem the world faces.
He also penned an op-ed in The New York Times, calling Gandhi as the “best teacher” and invited thinkers, entrepreneurs and tech leaders to be at the forefront of spreading Gandhi’s ideas through innovation, as part of the “Einstein Challenge”.
Sonia Gandhi while addressing party members outside Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial Rajghat here, targeted the BJP, saying the country is being taken towards their “own direction” in the name of Mahatma Gandhi even though “those doing politics of falsehood will not understand” what he preached.
Sonia Gandhi said Mahatma Gandhi is the symbol of India “but those who want RSS to become India’s symbol will not understand what Gandhiji thought about multiculturalism.”
Her daughter Priyanka, who was holding a padyatra in Lucknow, also supported her and said that before holding assembly session on Gandhi Jayanti, the BJP should first follow the principles of ‘Satya and Ahimsa’ of Gandhiji.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and others led padyatras in different parts of the country to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi.
Various programmes were conducted in different parts of the country including in West Bengal, Odisha and Tripura. Himachal Pradesh launched a scheme to buy back non-recyclable, single-use plastic waste with a minimum support price of Rs 75 per kg.
As a mark of respect to Gandhi, Goa discontinued the practice of bursting firecrackers during Gandhi Jayanti celebrations observing that Gandhi was a true environmentalist while the Rajasthan government announced a ban on the use of pan masala.
Besides BJP and Congress, other parties also paid homage to the father of the nation. AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with his deputy Manish Sisodia paid tributes to Gandhi at his ‘samadhi’. Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav led his party leaders and workers to the Gandhi statue at the GPO Park in Lucknow and offered floral tributes to the Mahatma.
Among others, the Delhi Police adopted ‘Gandhigiri’ to convince the shoppers to say no to plastic bags and replace plastic bags with jute bags free of cost.
Nearly 600 prisoners, convicted of offences other than murder, rape and corruption, were released from 150 jails across the country.
Secretary-General of UN Antonio Guterres also remembered Mahatma Gandhi saying that the leader pioneered successive non-violent movements that changed history whereas The Ahimsa dialogue, held on Tuesday at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, commemorates the International Day of Non-Violence on October 2 which marks Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.