The much touted Prakash Parv festivities culminated in Patna on Thursday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the programme organised on this occasion at Patna's Gandhi Maidan.
During his two-hour stay in the state capital, Modi paid obeisance to the Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, participated in the kirtan and delivered a speech.
His address was much anticipated in Patna's political circles. People were hoping Modi would back the efforts made by his party's state unit to claim credit for arrangements made for the Prakash Parv.
There were speculations that the prime minister would use this opportunity to make a pitch for the upcoming state polls in Punjab. This was expected even more so considering the fact that senior Congress leader from Punjab Amarinder Singh as well as Punjab Chief Minister had also tried to draw political mileage out of this event.
However, Modi proved critics wrong by staying away from politics during the visit. Yet, he did not leave the city without making a political masterstroke of sorts.
While common people in Patna are still immersed in the Prakash Parv celebrations, political pundits are busy interpreting prime minister's political signaling.
Well played Modi!
Modi's shower of praise on the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is the talk of the town for now. The PM appreciated Kumar's efforts in making Prakash Parv a grand success.
But, this alone would not have caught the attention of political observers if Modi had not endorsed the chief minister's prohibition campaign with equal benevolence.
Modi stated that Nitish was working to reform Bihar's society. This came as a surprise to his own party colleagues working in the state.
The state BJP leaders had made all preparations to stake claim for organising Prakash Parv in an efficient manner. For several days, these leaders were crowning the Union Government with this glory.
The senior party leader Sushil Kumar Modi had even presented figures before the media to bolster his party's case.
According to him, the central government had allocated Rs 100 crore for the Prakash Parv. Sushil Modi had further stated that the state will get the amount in two installments.
"The first installment of Rs 20.76 has already been released while another Rs 41.53 crore would soon be issued by the Union Ministry for Tourism for the development of memorials related to the Sikh Guru," he claimed.
"The central government has given Rs 8.25 crore for developing the Patna Sahib Station and Rs 1.03 crore for modernising the Patna Ghat Station. The Modi government is further willing to allocate Rs 15 crore for construction of a memorial dedicated to Guru Gobind Singh," he further added. Several press releases highlighting these facts were released in the past few days.
However, PM's speech took the substance out of Sushil Modi's proposed press conference that was to be held after Modi's visit. His endorsement of liquor prohibition has certainly deprived the BJP of a potent issue in the state.
Lalu's cornering during the entire event has also caught local media's attention. The CM was personally monitoring the Prakash Parv preparations from the beginning.
Although, Tejaswi Yadav tried to claim credit on many occasions, he had little chance in front of Nitish Kumar's efficient management skills. Lalu as well as his son were kept out of the limelight even during the main events during the day.
"Nitish Kumar has calculated his every move. The prime minister has returned his favour of supporting demonetisation. Lalu Yadav must respond to this," said one senior RJD leader.
Lalu was present during the programme organised in Gandhi Maidan. However, he was not even called on the dias. In contrast, BJP leaders like Ravi Shankar Prasad walked away with all the limelight.
Between the devil & the deep sea
While much politcal wrangling was anticipated after the Prakash Parv, people had expected Nitish Kumar to remain silent. Now, the local BJP leaders are trying to find some issue to counter the blow dealt by their own prime minister. On the other hand, JD(U) leaders have been asked to maintain silence.
But, anger is palpable in the RJD camp. Both RJD and BJP are finding hard to find a target for their onslaught. RJD will not find it easy to criticise their own alliance partner JD(U).
Even BJP leaders will have to be cautious before training guns at the chief minister as they run the risk of contradicting Narendra Modi.
Political analysts believe that these splendid Prakash Parv celebrations will help to improve the battered image of Bihar. The Sikh pilgrims who had come from all over the globe are likely to remember the efficient management of the entire festival.
The main beneficiary of all this praise is going to be Nitish Kumar. Modi's endorsement will only increase his standing among the masses of Bihar.
The centenary celebrations of Gandhi's satyagraha is going to be another such opportunity for him. This is the reason he mentioned this upcoming event many times during his speech at Prakash Parv.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen