Monday, 30th October 2017

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Message of Gandhi in Kerala budget

Painting by Vattakuzhy on the cover page of the Malayalam copy of the state budget

By K.M. Rakesh in Bangalore
  • Published 8.02.20, 3:03 AM
  • Updated 8.02.20, 3:03 AM
  • 2 mins read
Vattakuzhy, who graduated from Visva-Bharati Telegraph picture

The Kerala state budget presented on Friday had on its cover a painting, Death of Gandhi, in a powerful departure from tradition to “remind the people about the threats around us”.

Widely shared on Mahatma Gandhi’s martyrdom day on January 30, the painting by Tom Vattakuzhy was printed on the cover page of the Malayalam copy of the state budget presented by finance minister Thomas Isaac.

It depicts the first moment after Nathuram Godse shot and killed Gandhi, whose blood-splattered and limp body is cradled by his shell-shocked followers.

While the original is still with the painter, who lives at Ernakulam in Kerala, a copy is on display at the Museum of Goa.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan told The Telegraph: “The government of India has been using every opportunity to punish and penalise Kerala for its political stand. Our state has been ignored even in the central budget. As all of you know, the country is passing through difficult times with severe onslaught on everything we valued, including what Gandhiji stood for.

The painting ‘Death of Gandhi’
The painting ‘Death of Gandhi’ (Sourced by the correspondent)

“We thought to remind the people about the threats around us. Hence, Death of Gandhi has become the cover of our budget. The economy and its development are meaningful only when our secular democratic Constitution is intact.”

A graduate from Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, Vattakuzhy said he was influenced by the drastic change in Indian society to paint Death of Gandhi. “My teachers in Santiniketan taught me that art is not a mere commodity, but the pulse of society,” Vattakuzhy told this newspaper.

He painted the Death of Gandhi in July last year.

“My entry point to this work was the reality on how our history is getting distorted and trampled upon,” he said.

The cover of the English copy of the budget sported a sketch imagining the assassination of Gandhi, with the final moment before Godse shot Gandhi forming its backdrop.

Isaac said: “I am presenting the budget for the financial year 2020-21 before this august House against the backdrop of the unusual challenges being faced by our nation. Before entering into the budget proposals we have to perceive the gravity of the situation.”

The preface to the budget was titled “Menace of Communalism”. “Democracy and dictatorship are standing face to face in India. The rulers in Delhi speak only in the language of hatred and rancour,” it said.

The preface then goes to speak with pride about how Kerala has been at the forefront of the protests against the new citizenship matrix.