Days after a government college in Madhya Pradesh ordered replacement of the bust of Mahatma Gandhi because it looked more like Ben Kingsley — the British actor who played the Mahatma in the 1982 biopic Gandhi — the administration of Damoh district has asked all government colleges to replace busts that don’t resemble the Father of the Nation.
Following an announcement by Chief Minister Kamal Nath on October 2, all government colleges in the state had been asked to install Gandhi stambhs by January 26. The higher education department had issued a detailed circular on January 10 and less than two weeks later, it issued another circular to correct mistakes in the text that was to be inscribed on four sides of the pedestal, leaving the colleges authorities in a spot.
One of the Gandhi busts in a Damoh college sports a moustache while another sports a pair of black spectacles. After getting a complaint about incongruities, Damoh Collector Tarun Rathi on Tuesday called principals of government colleges for a meeting and said it was their duty to examine the bust before the unveiling.
He said the replacement should be done without any additional cost.
Rathi said that he has written to all colleges to replace busts that don’t resemble Gandhi. He said it was possible that the sculptors, flooded with sudden demand, made mistakes. “What is the point if the busts don’t look like Gandhiji’s,’’ he said, adding that people complained that one bust resembled Babasaheb Ambedkar and another Deendayal Upadhyaya.
Two of the principals who attended the meeting said similar busts had been installed in many colleges in the region because such busts were manufactured only in Jabalpur and Gwalior. Principal Dr K P Ahirwar said it would take 10-15 days to replace the busts.
He claimed that not all busts had incongruities but they had been photographed from angles that made them look odd.
Jabera College Principal B D Ahirwar said the colleges purchased two-foot busts for Rs 9,000 and 2.25-foot busts for Rs 13,000, at nearly half the price, directly from sculptors.
He said brokers were behind raising of the issue.
In a tweet, Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava attached photographs of the busts in Damoh colleges and accused the Congress of not just abandoning the Father of the Nation, but also tinkering with his image.
Meanwhile, the bust that resembles Ben Kingsley in Rewa college is yet to be replaced. A section of students had taken to the streets within hours of unveiling of the bust on January 30, alleging that it was an insult to the Mahatma.
Similar busts in two other government colleges in Rewa have survived because nobody has protested so far.
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