Kolkata: Terming the replacement of Mahatma Gandhi’s picture from Khadi Village Industries Commission’s (KVIC’s) annual calendar and diary with that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s a “marketing exercise”, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Sunday said it was part of the all-out effort to promote “Brand Modi”.

“My perception is that they [the Modi government] have tried to reduce everything to a marketing exercise. This is about promoting Brand Modi and putting the brand on everything the government has control of, overlooking the fact of not just popular imagination but a historical fact,” Tharoor said on the sidelines of Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival here.

He said the move was “inappropriate” and showed the government in poor light.

“Gandhiji’s relationship with the handloom industry and khadi is so organic and so fundamental with the image of him and his charkha that it is deeply embedded in the public consciousness. You cannot just change the image so easily. To put it mildly, it was inappropriate.

“We should not give it too much importance because to my mind it suggests trivialisation of national iconography that does not stand to the credit of those who thought of it,” he added.

A political storm rages over Modi’s picture spinning the charkha appearing on the cover pages of the KVIC calendar and diary, instead of the iconic picture of Gandhi weaving khadi on a simple charkha wearing his trademark loin cloth.