Freedom fighter V Kalyanam, who served as personal secretary to Mahatma Gandhi, today expressed shock over the Home Ministry's RTI response that Gandhiji cannot be accorded the 'Father of the Nation' title by government as the Constitution does not permit any titles except educational and military ones.
In the response to Lucknow-based student Aishwarya Parashar, the Ministry had told her that no action was taken on her plea to the President to declare Mahatma Gandhi as 'Father of the Nation' because Art 18 (1) of the Constitution does not permit any titles except education and military ones.
Holding that the reply has created a gross misunderstanding among people, Kalayanam, in a letter to home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, sought his intervention and issue a statement that the expression "Father of the Nation" is acceptable to the government to set at rest the controversy.
"....we have been able to achieve freedom which culminated with a Constitution to follow by the people after years of toil and sacrifice by Mahatma Gandhi. Therefore, to state that this title is not recognized in the Constitution is a sign of immaturity. It is an open insult to the sacred memory of Mahatma Gandhi...", he said.
"Although the Constitution may not recognise the title "Father of the Nation", you are aware that the Government of India itself is winking at the use of title like Padma Shri... So it is all the more surprising that the government is not taking note of the title used by all our leaders," he said.
He said the title was first given to Mahatma Gandhi in 1944 by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. "He addressed Gandhiji as the Father of the Nation in his condolence mesage on the death of Kasturba. Inspite of all the differences and ideologies, both Gandhiji and Netaji admired and respected each other...."
The title "Mahatma" was first conferred upon Gandhiji by no less a person than Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Jawaharlal Nehru also used the expression "Father of the Nation" on January 30, 1948, the day Gandhi was assassinated. Lord Mountbatten too has used this expression on several occasions while referring to Gandhiji, he said.
"So in the light of this practice, the expression "Father of the Nation" has been accepted widely not only in India but all over the world."
He also requested Shinde to send a suitable reply to Aishwarya, "the extraordinarily perceptible citizen who has raised the right type of question."