Patna: The Bihar Congress on Sunday raised the demand for conferring Bharat Ratna on Shri Krishna Sinha, better known as 'Shri babu' in the state, where he had been the first, and till date, the longest-serving chief minister.
Senior Congress leader Akhilesh Prasad Singh, who is the party's sole Rajya Sabha member from the state, said a resolution to this effect would be passed on Monday at a function organized on the occasion of Shri babu's birth anniversary.
Singh, however, dismissed suggestions that the move was aimed at winning back the Bhumihar community - traditionally Congress supporters who have tilted towards the BJP in the post-Mandal era.
"Shri babu was not the leader of any one community. It was during his tenure that Bihar became the first state in the country to abolish the zamindari system. The worst-hit by the move were members of his own community," Singh - a Bhumihar himself - said.
"Today it has become fashionable to speak about social justice. Shri babu had shown the gumption to press for entry of Dalits inside the famous Baijnath Dham temple at Deogarh many decades ago, without fearing backlash from the priestly classes," the Rajya Sabha member said.
Shri babu was also known for his administrative abilities, he asserted. "Under Nitish Kumar's so-called developed Bihar, the state's contribution to the total sugar production in the country has been reduced to a meagre two per cent, compared with 21 per cent during Shri babu's tenure," Singh said.
"I would also like to cite the example of the recent water-logging, which brought life to a halt in Patna after just three days of rainfall. Measures taken for flood control during Shri babu's tenure had received acclaim not just across the country but even abroad," the Congress leader said.
When pointed out that the BJP, too, was keen on celebrating Sinha's birth anniversary with gusto, most likely on Monday, Singh - who was formerly with Lalu Prasad's RJD and had served as a Union minister under Manmohan Singh - said he hoped that all opposition parties join in the celebrations.
"What better thing to happen than the BJP celebrating the birth anniversary of a Congress leader I hope Left parties such as the CPI and the CPI-ML, too, join the bandwagon," he quipped.