SHARING A stage for the first time with Nitish Kumar after he endorsed the Centre’s demonetisation policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday praised the Bihar Chief Minister for imposing prohibition in the state and the arrangements put in place for celebrating the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh.
Speaking at a function to wrap up the week-long Prakash Parv celebrations, which drew a gathering of over 5 lakh devotees from India and abroad, Modi said, “I want to congratulate Nitish Kumar for his strong move on prohibition despite objections from all quarters. It is a courageous step. It can save coming generations and act as an inspiration for other states… This (successfully implementing prohibition) is not just Nitish Kumar’s work or the work of a political party. It is the duty of every person, and Bihar will benefit from it.”
This was the first time that Modi had praised the prohibition policy imposed by the Bihar government last year. However, the Prime Minister did not respond to a suggestion from Nitish, who spoke earlier, to impose “a national ban” on prohibition.
The Bihar Chief Minister had also referred to how Modi successfully carried forward the prohibition policy in Gujarat when he was the chief minister of the state.
After taking on each other in bitter campaigns for the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and the Bihar Assembly elections last year, Modi and Nitish, both wearing turbans, were also seen chatting frequently on the dais at Gandhi Maidan.
“I thank Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the Bihar government and the people of the state for organising this special event… I was told Nitishji personally managed it,” said Modi.
Saying that he was “fortunate” to be part of this event, Modi expressed the hope that Bihar would help take the country forward. “It has given us leaders from Guru Gobind Singh, Karpoori Thakur and Jayaprakash Narayan,” he said.
Exhorting everyone to celebrate Prakash Parv, the Prime Minister said that Indian embassies around the world were marking the occasion with various events. “The government has made a committee to celebrate the occasion in the country and abroad. This should serve as an inspiration for generations to come,” said Modi.
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Referring to Guru Gobind Singh, the Prime Minister said, “He was a fighter who had no parallel to his bravery and courage. He made sustained efforts to unite the society.”
Modi added that the guru’s life had inspired millions as he placed his knowledge and experience at the core of his teachings.
In his speech, Nitish reminded Modi of how he had enforced prohibition in Gujarat as the chief minister. “Our Prime Minister was chief minister for 12 years and he implemented the prohibition of liquor very effectively in Gujarat… I have also enforced prohibition in Bihar before the landmark occasions of Prakash Parv and centenary year of the Champaran satyagraha,” he said.
The Prime Minister, meanwhile, released commemorative stamps to mark the occasion at the function, which was also attended by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Union ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Ravi Shankar Prasad, and Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind.