In span of four months, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has got a second big opportunity to hog the national and international limelight. First, it was on the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh in January that brought Bihar government accolades for its grand arrangements. Now, it is the rousing start to the Champaran Satyagraha centenary celebrations that got underway on 10 April.
Family members of Mahatma Gandhi, Gopal Krishna Gandhi and Tushar Gandhi attended the celebrations. Gyan Bhavan in the just-opened international convention centre near Gandhi Maidan, witnessed the opening show. The highlight of the opening function was a Madhubani painting showcasing Gandhian thoughts on a sari.
Nitish Kumar could not have got a better occasion to talk about the relevance of Gandhism in the present climate of “intolerance and conflict”. The CM stressed that it was time to go back to the people with Gandhian thoughts and ask them to decide on an agenda of the people, rather than for politicians to decide the country’s agenda.
Nitish Kumar did not forget to link prohibition to Gandhism. He explained how it rankled him to see people suffer from the ill-effects of drinking. The CM, however, did not mention that it was during his tenure that liquor sale surged because of its sales tax at village levels.
He has been invoking Gandhi ever since he brought in a liquor ban last summer. He has been trying to put pressure on other states to follow suit by invoking Gandhi, who had said he would ban liquor if he got a chance to do one big thing.
The Champaran centenary celebrations will host the President of India on April 17. Nitish will travel to east Champaran to recreate the march of Gandhi from a village to Motihari from where Gandhi had launched the Champaran Satyagraha taking up the cause of farmers who were being forced by the British to grow indigo.
The Champaran Centenary celebrations will continue for a year in the form of debates and cultural functions. Gandhi could not have been more timely or relevant for Nitish in his national scheme of things in the run upto the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.