The image of the bespectacled Gandhi, wearing a loincloth and sitting cross-legged at a spinning wheel, is one of India’s most iconic and has long been used to promote the khadi, or homespun cotton, industry.
The government-run Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC) defended its decision to use a photo of Modi, sitting in an almost identical pose while spinning cotton, on the cover of its 2017 calendar and diary.
“He is khadi’s biggest brand ambassador,” Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena told media.
Saxena said figures other than Gandhi had been used as the faces of the calendar before, and that Modi deserved the honor because he had helped boost cotton sales.
Some KVIC workers staged a silent protest after seeing the new calendar, media reported.
Opposition leaders were quick to ridicule the image.
“Becoming Gandhi requires years of self-sacrifice,” Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi and a political opponent of Modi, tweeted in Hindi.
“You cannot become Gandhi by acting as if you can spin the charkha (spinning wheel) — this will only make you a laughing stock.”