Modi claims Mahatma Gandhi wasn't popular before 1982, Congress says 'Get Well Soon'

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays floral tribute to Mahatma Gandhi. File photo: Press Information Bureau

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the world did not know about Mahatma Gandhi until his biographical film was made in 1982.
Modi made the strange claim during an interview given to ABP News. He said Gandhi wasn't as known worldwide as American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. or former South African president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela.

"In 75 years, was it not our duty to make the whole world know about Mahatma Gandhi?" Modi said. "Koi nahi janta tha, maaf karna muje (forgive me, no one knew)."

"Pehli baar jab Gandhi film bani tab duniya mein curiosity hui, acha yeh kaun hein (the first time when the Gandhi film was made, the world was curious, who is this man).

"Hum ne nahi kiya ji. Agar Martin Luther King ko duniya janti hai, agar hamare South Africa ke Nelson Mandela ko duniya janti hai, Gandhi ji unse kam nahi the ji (We didn't do it. If the world knew about Martin Luther King, if the world knew about Nelson Mandela, Gandhiji was equally great," Modi said.

'May God give him good sense'
Modi's remark has been met with an outburst on social media. "May God give him good sense," posted the Congress party on X, also called Twitter. "Get well soon, PM Modi," read a card posted by Congress.

Various social media handles were quick to draw references from history on Gandhi's worldwide influence in the pre-Independence era.

The Congress party's Kerala page shared pictures of Gandhi being swarmed by crowds during his visits to London, Switzerland and Paris in the 1930s.

A handle on X, @Advaidism posted a tribute from Albert Einstein on the occasion of the Mahatma's 70th birthday in 1939. "...generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth," Einstein wrote.

A thread on Gandhi's undisputed popularity across the world was shared by the handle @samjawed65. It shows, among various references, Gandhi on the cover of Times magazine in 1931, Martin Luther King Jr's glowing tribute to the Mahatma, and numerous postage stamps issued by the US, Britain and about 40 other countries as early as the 1960s.

The film 'Gandhi' directed by Richard Attenborough staring Ben Kingsley in the title role bagged several Academy Awards, including the Best Costume Design for Bhanu Athaiya, making her the first Indian to win an Oscar.

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