Bihar allies BJP and JDU hold separate victory day celebrations
The “vijayotsav” or victory day celebrations of 1857 War of Independence hero Veer Kunwar Singh in Bihar on Saturday once again brought to the fore the tensions between ruling allies the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JDU), as both celebrated the occasion separately.
Union home minister Amit Shah took part in the “vijayotsav” at Kunwar Singh’s ancestral place in Jagdishpur of Bhojpur district, where the BJP attempted a world record with at least 77,900 people waving the national flag. The JDU kept away from the event.
On the other hand, chief minister Nitish Kumar paid floral tributes to Kunwar Singh at a state function in Patna and advised the ‘people’ not to forget that the ruler stood for harmony and inclusiveness.
“It should be remembered that he (Singh) took along all sections of the society — Hindus, Muslims, upper castes, backward castes, Dalits and others. He deployed them in the war. We should not forget these things,” Nitish told media persons after the function.
Nitish’s statement was seen as a barb on ally BJP in the present backdrop of communal tensions being created over azaan, hijab, namaz, religious processions and use of loudspeakers.
In the same vein the chief minister also demanded that the celebrations in Singh’s name should be held at the national level.
“I have been demanding for a long time that the celebrations should be organised at the national level. Kunwar Singh’s role was not limited just to Bihar. He fought in other states also,” Nitish said.
However, Nitish — who had attended the iftar party thrown by leader of Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav on Friday triggering speculations about an imminent change in Bihar politics — welcomed Shah on his arrival at the Patna airport on a Border Security Force aircraft. The two leaders interacted for around 15 minutes at the VIP lounge there.
Speaking at Jagdishpur, Shah asserted, “The historians did not do justice with Singh and denied him a proper place in history. But the public today showed their respect for him in this scorching heat, and did the justice by waving the tricolour.”
“Singh was a social reformer and wanted the welfare of the Dalits, backward castes, scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes. Today our Prime Minister Narendra Modi is following it by working for everybody’s welfare. Covid vaccination for all is an example of it,” Shah added.
The Union home minister recounted the public schemes initiated by Modi-led government at the Centre and sought to remind the audience of the so-called “jungle raj” of former RJD chief ministers Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi between 1990 and 2005.
Shah said that Nitish and the BJP pulled Bihar back on the road to development.
Kunwar Singh, the ruler of a small principality at Jagdishpur, joined the First War of Independence in 1857, dealt several defeats to the British and then liberated vast stretches in western Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh. He kept the area independent for almost a year and died undefeated in 1858 at the age of 80. The “vijayotsav” marks the occasion he took back his fort from the British.
Singh hailed from the influential Rajput caste and one of the motives of the BJP of celebrating the event on a grand scale is to appease the voters hailing from the caste as they are shying away from the party and gravitating towards the Rashtriya Janata Dal in the current political scenario in the state.