RJD chief Lalu Prasad has questioned a last-minute decision of Home Minister Rajnath Singh to stay away from an official function in Bihar on Monday where hundreds of freedom fighters were honoured. President Parnab Mukherjee felicitated the freedom fighters from across the country to mark the ongoing year-long centenary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi’s Champaran Satyagraha here. The Grand Alliance government in Bihar led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had invited top leaders from all political parties including senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, RJD chief Lalu Prasad, CPI leader Satnarain Singh for the function.
All except Rajnath Singh attended the ceremony. This was after Singh accepted the invitation and confirmed he would attend it. With Rajnath Singh not present at the function, state Bharatiya Janata Party leaders also boycotted the function, alleging that it was being politicised. “This function is neither for Nitish Kumar nor Lalu Prasad, it is being held to honour the freedom fighters. Rajnath Singh should not have… in last minute decided not to attend it,” Lalu said. Lalu Prasad expressed his displeasure, and said: “Singh made up his mind not to attend after being informed that Lalu and Rahul will share the stage with him. It has made no difference to us…”
Nitish Kumar in his address at the function said the state government had invited all political parties, but it was for them to attend it or not. Senior BJP leader from the state Mangal Pandey defending Rajnath Singh’s decision to abstain from the function, admitted that the BJP had boycotted the ceremony. The year-long celebrations to mark the 100th year of Mahatma Gandhi’s first major resistance against the British rule, popularly known as the Champaran Satyagraha, began last week in Bihar. Mahatma Gandhi launched the non-violent agitation against the British rulers’ decision to force farmers of the Champaran district to cultivate indigo for export on April 10, 1917.