Kerala government led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday came under the spotlight for depicting the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on the cover of the state finance budget 2020-21 document. The budget was presented in the Assembly by Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac.
The painting 'Death of Gandhi' was by artist and illustrator Tom Vattakuzhy, which he posted on his Facebook page last year. It went viral on January 30 after Congress leader and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi and several others shared the painting on social media.
Isaac read out the Budget with his comments on contemporary politics. He said, “Democracy and dictatorship are standing face to face in India. The rulers in Delhi speak only in the language of hatred and rancour. Their followers consider violence and attack as their karma. The administrative set up has completely yielded to communalism."
"Generally speaking, this is the India of today. Which Keralite can’t be enthused by the fact that Kerala provided the moral leadership to these agitations? Kerala is already a model to India in many areas. Kerala shall create a new model of unity when the country is facing a threat to its very existence,” he added.
Issuing clarification on the usage of the painting, Issac justified that it is a political statement. "Definitely, it is a political statement, the cover of my budget speech. It is a painting by a Malayalam artist of Mahatma Gandhi's murder scene. We are sending out a message that we will not forget who murdered Gandhi."
He also alleged that history is being re-written and National Register of Citizens (NRC) is being used to divide the country on communal lines. "This is important at the times when history is being re-written. There is an attempt to erase some popular memories and use NRC to divide the population on communal lines. Kerala will stand united."
NRC is an official record of those people who are legal citizens of India. The dossier includes demographic information about all those individuals who qualify as citizens of India as per the Citizenship Act, 1955. The register was first prepared after the 1951 Census of India and since then it has not been updated until recently. However, the Home Ministry said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that the government has taken no decision yet on bringing a nationwide NRC yet.
(with ANI inputs)