An animated music video on YouTube, which shows India's preeminent independence leader Mahatma Gandhi perform mean street-style dance moves and daring headstands, has embroiled the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition party Congress in another war of words.
The video published on Saturday comes close on the heels of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi accusing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organisation of BJP, of being involved in the Mahatma's assassination.
The song performed by acclaimed rapper Babu Haabi has lyrics that say: “Satyagraha se kuch na mila, jhoot ka jhanda lehraya (When satyagraha failed to yield results, I was forced to hoist the flag of deceit).” Satygraha was the Mahatma's idea of nonviolent resistance during India's freedom movement.
The video also has Gandhi, regarded in India as the Father of the Nation, shaking his booty in the foreground of Parliament bursting into flames.
The rap song has further inflamed tension between the Congress and the BJP.
The Congress was quick to criticise the BJP for not acting against Haabi. Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam said he denounced people who disrespect Gandhi.
“I stand by Rahul Gandhi's statement about the RSS' hand behind Gandhi's assassination...Merely invoking Gandhi when it suits them will not help. If the government is serious they should act against those responsible for this video," he said.
The BJP fought back, with their chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari saying, "These are all shenanigans of the Congress and Left parties who want to keep creating tension over some subject or the other and reap political dividends.”
He also took strong exception to the video being linked to either the RSS or the BJP.
“If the Congress is serious about the outrage, why are they not making an official complaint under the new cyber laws to get the person responsible booked for this video,” he asked.
The man at the centre of the controversy, Babu Haabi, said he was stunned with what he called “an unnecessary overreaction”.
“Unlike my anti-establishment rap which asks serious questions of the polity and society, other well-known rappers can't seem to think beyond women and booze. Yet people are questioning me and not them,” he said.
His artiste management company Milesahead Moviedom also felt too much was being made of the video. Director Hira Bulani asked, “Doesn't Shiva dance the taandav when furious about the chaos around? This is an equivalent. So what's the fuss about?”