New Delhi : On the eve of 40th anniversary of imposition of the Emergency, government on Wednesday decided to set up a national memorial for socialist icon Jai Prakash Narayan in his birthplace in Bihar where assembly polls are likely this September-October. Announcing a number of decisions of the government to honour JP, who had spearheaded the fight against the Emergency, Home Minister Rajnath Singh recalled how democratic institutions were ‘muzzled’ during the Emergency as he lauded the contribution of the socialist leader in uniting the country against the ‘black chapter’ of Indian history.

Singh at the same time rejected contentions that the decision on JP is aimed reaping political dividends in Bihar polls, saying that honouring the contributions made by such great persons and icons should not be seen from the prism of politics.

“This should not be linked with political gains or losses,” the Home Minister insisted. BJP is facing a tough electoral battle in Bihar after the coming together of arch rival Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar. Briefing the media along with Singh, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who hails from Bihar and had participated in the JP movement, targeted those who ‘did nothing’ for the socialist leader in the last 10 years despite being associated with the leader, a dig aimed at Prasad and Kumar who emerged in the political arena from the JP movement.

Calling himself a ‘soldier of the JP movement,’ Prasad said it was ‘an emotional moment’ for him and recalled that it was the government led by NDA’s Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee which gave Bharat Ratna to JP and also organised JP centenary year in 2002.

Ás per the proposal of the Ministry of Culture, which was approved by the Cabinet, a national memorial will be set up at Lala Ka Tola, Sitab, Diara, in Chhapra district in Bihar, the birth place of Jai Prakash Narayan.

The memorial will also house a virtual museum and an institute to undertake study and research on democracy, enhancing the role of panchayats in nation-building, Gandhian thoughts and centre for Khadi and constructive work keeping in view the thoughts of Jai Prakash Narayan.

Lok Nayak Khadi Gaurav Samvardhan Kendra will also be set up at the same place for making national flags by women clusters. PTI

Hailing JP as an ‘exemplary leader of Indian independence movement, a freedom fighter, social reformer and a visionary political leader,” the government said that his contribution will be commemorated through these decisions.

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Lalu to bank on ‘tamtam’

Patna: RJD President Lalu Prasad has decided his party will bank on ‘tamtam’ (tonga, or light horse-drawn carriage) to counter its main rival BJP in the coming Bihar Assembly elections. “The showy BJP will move in big vehicles on four-lane highways. We will movie on ‘tamtam’ on civil lane. These tamtams will carry our message to every village in the state and help throw down BJP on the ground,” Prasad said.

Prasad was talking to reporters after meeting party workers and leaders from Bhagalpur division, comprising of Bhagalpur and Banka districts. He said RJD would put 50 such horse-drawn carriages in each Assembly constituency where it would field candidates, and each of them would be given the task to roam in ten panchayats in the constituency during the poll campaign.

“They will make people aware how the BJP has cheated the people with false promises regarding bringing back black money and is trying to introduce a land acquisition law, which will rob our farmers of their land,” he said.

“The BJP wants to grab Bihar. It is spreading communalism in the country. We have to stop it and these ‘tamtams’ will be our messengers in the endeavour,” Prasad said.  The RJD supremo said the tamtams or tongas would be hired at the rate of Rs 500 per day and help ease the livelihood issues of those driving them.


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