Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today took a dig at Home Minister Rajnath Singh for his failure to attend a centenary celebration function of ‘Champaran satyagraha,’ insinuating ‘disagreement with Gandhian values’ behind it. “I harbour no grievance against those not coming to the function and not in agreement with the Gandhian values,” said Kumar, while indirectly lamenting Singh’s absence from the “apolitical” function graced by President Pranab Mukherjee.
Kumar emphasised on countering the “environment of intolerance” through national agendas based on Gandhian philosophy. RJD President Lalu Prasad too joined his political ally, bluntly questioning Singh’s absence from the function held to remember the 1917 event of satyagraha launch by Mahatama Gandhi against the forced indigo cultivation by the British colonialists in Champaran. “When you would not come to the function, why did you give your consent?” asked Prasad. “On the one hand there are believers of Nathuram Godse who killed Gandhiji and on the other hand there are people like us who adhere to the philosophy of the Father of the Nation… country will be with the believers of Gandhiji,” he said.
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Bihar former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi too had kept away from the function. Manjhi, the chief of the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) is a BJP ally. Addressing the function, President Mukherjee described the historic launch of stayagraha at Champaran by Mahatama Gandhi as a “laboratory of freedom struggle” against the British rule and said “Champaran satyagraha transformed Gandhiji into the Mahatma.”
Tracing the historical importance of the Champaran stir, the first by Bapu after he returned from South Africa, he said, “Champaran satyagraha transformed Gandhiji into the Mahatma.” The President called upon the people to fight against communalism, sectarianism and parochialism and promote the spirit of “Indianness.” “We must remember our roots by enlightening ourselves with great historical events,” the President told the gathering at the function held to honour freedom fighters from across the country on the occasion of the centenary celebration “Akhil Bhartiya Swantantrata Senani Samaroh.”
The occasion was also graced by Bihar Governor Ramnath Kovind, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Prasad among others. President Mukherjee honoured 15 freedom fighters from different parts of the country as a mark of respect. Hundreds of freedom fighters from across the country had travelled to Patna for the occasion. They were all honoured by the Bihar government.
Speaking on the occasion, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said Gandhiji’s greatest contribution to the freedom struggle was that he had “ended the fear of the British rule from the minds of the people.” With the BJP-led government at the Centre apparently in his mind, he said it is not necessary that those having “satta” (power) will have “sachai” (truthfullness) too with them. “If somebody having power tries to frighten people, the country will not allow it,” he said.