Gandhi's great grandson hits out at Trump for political visitors' book message

Oliver O'Connell
President Donald Trump, with first lady Melania Trump, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, look at a Charkha, or a spinning wheel, during a tour of Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, India: (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Mahatma Gandhi’s great grandson has led a chorus of indignation at the message Donald Trump left in the visitors' book at the Ashram set up by the Indian freedom fighter.

Mr Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on Monday as part of the first leg of their tour of India. They toured the site with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and watched a demonstration of the charkha wheel — the small, portable, hand-cranked spinning wheel that Gandhi used to promote his teaching. Mr Trump, along with Mr Modi, also garlanded a photo of Mahatma Gandhi.

NDTV reports that Tushar Gandhi was unimpressed by Mr Trump’s failure to mention Mahatma Gandhi in his visitor book message and that it seemed that he hadn’t found the experience worthwhile.

The president wrote: “To my great friend Prime Minister Modi — thank you for this wonderful visit!”

Many feel that rather than promoting Mr Modi, it would have been more appropriate to contemplate Mahatma Gandhi’s inspiring struggle for freedom.

“The message that he has written in Sabarmati Ashram [visitors' book] does not seem to reflect that he felt it was a worthwhile experience,” said Mr Gandhi. “He has basically just written a thank-you message to his friend PM Modi.”

The Trump's both signed the visitors' book at the Ashram set up by Mahatma Gandhi (Indian Ministry of External Affairs/AFP)

Congress leader Manish Tewari said on Twitter: “No mention of the Great Mahatma. Does he even know who Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was?”

Comparisons have been drawn to messages left by Barack Obama on his visits to India. On a 2010 visit to Mani Bhavan, where Gandhi stayed in Mumbai, he wrote: “I am filled with hope and inspiration as I have the privilege to view this testament to Gandhi's life. He is a hero not just to India but to the world.”

In 2015, after visiting the Raj Ghat in Delhi, Mr Obama wrote: “What Dr Martin Luther King Jr said then remains true today. The spirit of Gandhi is very much alive in India today. And it remains a great gift to the world. May we always live in the spirit of love and peace - among all people and nations.”

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