The two leaders heaped praise upon each other for effectively implementing prohibition in their states. M I Khan reports from Patna.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday praised Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for effectively implementing liquor ban in the state.
“Prohibition is a good step. Any step for social change is very difficult. But Nitish Kumar has initiated it by enforcing prohibition. All people including political parties should back him for it,” Modi said as Nitish and his ally Rashtriya Janata Dal President Lalu Prasad shared the dais with him during the concluding function of 350th Prakash Parva of 10th Sikh Guru Govind Singh in Patna.
Modi’s word of praise for Nitish came after the Janata Dal-United chief supported PM’s demonetisation move even after all non-Bharatiya Janata Party chief ministers strongly opposed it.
The PM said that Bihar will become an example for the entire country through successful implementation of prohibition.
The PM’s mention of prohibition came in response to the Bihar chief minister’s request to him to spread prohibition across the country. Fulfilling its poll promise, Nitish Kumar government had imposed total prohibition in Bihar.
Kumar in his address mentioned that Narendra Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat had successfully carried prohibition which has been in force in the western state since its inception.
Though Modi and Kumar have been bitter political opponents, the prime minister had praised the Bihar chief minister recently for supporting demonetisation after the winter session of Parliament was washed out due to protests by a united opposition on note ban.
The Janata Dal-United had walked out of the National Democratic Alliance over naming of Modi as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate in 2014. The two leaders led a shrill campaign in the 2015 assembly elections against each other with Kumar, in alliance with the RJD, handing down a humiliating defeat to the BJP.
However, breaking from opposition ranks, the JD-U has supported demonetisation.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Bihar Governor Ramnath Kovind, Union ministers Ramvilas Paswan and Ravishankar Prasad were also present on the dais at the function.
Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal, Union minister Harsimrat Kaur, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Prasad Yadav and senior BJP leader and Patna Saheb MP Shatrughan Sinha were also present.
Bowing his head in reverence to the 10th Sikh Guru Govind Singh, the PM lauded his efforts for unity of the country through formation of “Panch Pyara panth”.
Patting Nitish Kumar for taking personal interest in making elaborate arrangements for the 350th Prakash Parva, the PM said the Centre on its part, besides helping the Bihar government in organising the event, is celebrating the historic occasion in different countries through its embassies.
The central government has allocated a sum of Rs 100 crore for the celebration of 350th Prakash Parva abroad which is being done through a committee formed for the purpose, Modi said.
The PM also highlighted the Centre’s contribution in successful organisation of the occasion in Bihar.
He said the railway ministry as well Union culture ministry have spent Rs 40 crore each for Prakash Parva in Bihar.
The PM received “prasad” (offering) from a langar in the tent city that has been erected in Gandhi Maidan, before leaving for Patna Airport on way back to Delhi.
The PM, Nitish Kumar, Union ministers Ramvilas Paswan and Ravishankar Prasad wore turban at the function.
Lakhs of Sikh devotees from the country and abroad have arrived for the event.
Punjab Chief Minister and Akali Dal President Prakash Singh Badal also showered praise on Nitish Kumar for elaborate arrangements for the Prakash Parva.
“In 70 years of my public life, I have seen several samagams…but the way Nitish Kumar took personal interest in hosting the event is an example,” Badal said.
“I could not have organised the occasion in much grander way,” he said.
Badal also hailed the PM for his special bond with Sikhs and thanked him for his presence in all the functions organised by the community.
Besides the 350th Prakash Parva, Kumar said, the state government would also host centenary celebration of Champaran Satyagraha of Mahatama Gandhi launched against British rule in 1917.
While referring to prohibition, Kumar said it was a tribute to Guru Govind Singh and Mahatama Gandhi who had heralded agitation against British rule through Champaran satyagraha in East Champaran district of Bihar against forced indigo plantation enforced by Britishers.
With the concluding function ton Thursday, 350th Prakash Parva which began on December 25 last has come to an end.
With inputs from PTI