BJP boycotts event to felicitate freedom fighters

The President graced the function but as Home Minister Rajnath Singh had pulled out apparently due to the situation in Kashmir, BJP’s Bihar leaders chose to stay away as well

Photo by PTI
Photo by PTI

Navendu Sharma

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, state leaders of the BJP and NDA allies on Monday boycotted a function in Patna to felicitate freedom fighters as part of the 100th anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi’s Champaran Satyagraha.

While the function was graced by President Pranab Mukherjee, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh pulled out at the last minute. While official sources claimed that he pulled out because of the student protests erupting in Kashmir, Bihar BJP leaders took the cue to boycott the event, protesting against the presence of RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on the dais.

While Lalu Prasad, tweeted Sushil Modi, was convicted in the fodder scam, Rahul Gandhi was out on bail in a case related to National Herald. Lalu Prasad responded by saying that it was ironical that a party which took no part in freedom struggle, and which idolises the assassin of the Mahatma, was busy preaching morality and nationalism.

JD(U) leader KC Tyagi condemned the boycott by the BJP and pointed out that both Lalu Prasad and Rahul Gandhi had been invited because of the positions they held in their respective parties. All party leaders including Ram Vilas Paswan, Jitan Ram Manjhi, Dipankar Bhattacharya and Upendra Kushwaha were also invited to the function. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar declared that he would like to thank those who attended the function and also those who failed to attend for whatever reason.

President Mukherjee called on the people to fight a relentless battle against communalism, sectarianism and all sorts of divisive attempts. He said about 200 languages are spoken in different parts of the country, all seven major religions are practised here and people of several races live in India, but they have one identity – of being Indians. “The younger generation must take a pledge to remain Indian,” he said.

Underlining the importance of Champaran Satyagraha, President Mukherjee stated that it is truly said that this movement was the (first) laboratory of India’s Independence movement to end 190 years of colonial rule. “Gandhi’s experiment with truth and Satyagraha transformed him into Mahatma on this land,” he said.

The British rule impoverished India so much that its GDP growth rate in 50 years preceding independence was just 1%. “We didn’t get freedom due to change in power equation at the end of World War II or because Britishers became generous,” he said, adding that coming from a freedom fighter’s family himself, he knew what it meant for them to stand up against colonialism, to realise their dream of an end to British rule.

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, in a veiled attack on the Narendra Modi government said, “power may be divorced from truth”. Those wielding power may not have truth on their side, he said. “Mahatma Gandhi worked to unite people, to create bonds of brotherhood and friendship. After witnessing the plight of Indians, Gandhi realised that India cannot progress without independence,” the Congress scion said.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who helms the largest party in Bihar’s ruling coalition government, said that he joined hands with Nitish Kumar to form the Grand Alliance to contest Bihar assembly polls in 2015 in order to fight the forces spreading hatred in society. “The farce of garlanding both Gandhi and his killer Nathuram Godse’s statues won’t be allowed to continue.”

CM Nitish Kumar, in his address, said the present phase in the country is one of confrontation and intolerance. Therefore, Gandhians have to discuss the agenda to propagate Gandhi’s views which are still relevant.

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Published: 17 Apr 2017, 8:41 PM