RAIPUR: Mahatma Gandhi was a man who overcame “British lion” and “snakes of communal poison” in the country making him more than a “chatur baniya”, his grandson Rajmohan Gandhi said on Saturday.
Gandhi, who is currently in the United States, said Mahatma’s aim today would have been different than that of BJP President Amit Shah, who had yesterday referred to him as a “chatur baniya” (a clever Baniya - the trading caste) while addressing a gathering in Raipur.
“The man who overcame the British lion and snakes of communal poison in India was more than a chatur bania. Today — unlike men like Amit Shah — he would aim to defeat the forces that hunt the innocent and the vulnerable,” Gandhi, a biographer and a research professor at University of Illinois, US said in email response.
Condemning Shah’s “chatur baniya” comment, opposition parties on Saturday demanded that he should apologise to the nation and insisted that the “denigrating” remark is withdrawn.
Mahatma’s another grandson, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, also said that he would have laughed at ‘chatur baniya’ description but for its “utter tastelessness and the hidden mischief in it”.
The BJP president was on a three-day trip to Chhattisgarh to strengthen the party’s base and prepare its road map for the Assembly polls next year when he made the remarks.
Shah’s focus in Chhattisgarh is to win over Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Schedules Castes (SC), sections that are not traditionally BJP voters.
In a party meeting here, Shah had told BJP leaders: “Take it as warning or a suggestion. Accomplish your task and responsibility or else quit,” as he set the target of 65 seats in the 90-member Chhattisgarh House. The saffron party has 50 members.
Shah held 22 meetings with the state office bearers, district presidents and in-charges. Sources say the party’s intelligence from the state’s interior ahead of this visit is not too good. Though the BJP under Raman Singh scored a hat-trick in the 2013 Assembly polls, ground reports last year had hinted a loss of support in constituencies with a predominantly SC and ST population.