While everyone knows how much Mahatma Gandhi hated alcohol, his fondness for tobacco is no secret either which is why even in the dry state of Gujarat people are to free to smoke as much as they want. Thus, during the celebrations of Gandhi Jayanti, it was heartening to hear old satyagrahis narrate their intimate moments spent with the father of the nation.
Thousands of people gathered, as one of the speaker fondly recollected how Bapu had forgotten his matchbox once and had to walk all the way to Dandi until finally someone lend him a lighter. But it was not all happy times back then, as the nostalgia filled speaker suggested, speaking at great lengths about the sacrifices he had to make in order to defeat the English.
“It was never the same after we started the protests. He knew he had to give up on cigarettes & cigars and do with the local made bidis, but he never complained. That was how committed he was to the cause of our nation’s independence” said the man, sobbing all the while.
Gujarat chief minister Narender Modi did not miss the opportunity to lash out at his opponents for the upcoming elections. “Gandhi was not just the father of Gujarat, he was father of the nation and yet it is only in Gujarat that alcohol is banned. Meanwhile, my dear Congress friends in the central govt are busy trying to impose new restrictions on the cigarette smokers. As if the compulsory warning on the packets was not enough, they started making life difficult for people who want to show smoking in films now. This is nothing but double standards; they have no prob with alcohol but cannot allow a few people to smoke. This is an attack not just on our father of the nation, but also on us. We will do everything in our power to ensure that while nobody’s allowed to drink, anyone who wants to smoke can fearlessly do so,” he thundered, as the crowd broke into a wild applause.
Such comments have not gone down well with central government and reports suggest they are already in a damage control mode. The PM’s office has issued a statement saying that chief minister’s remarks are baseless and that they have always had nothing but the highest respect for the Gandhi name.