The 350th Prakash Parv or birth centenary of Sikh Guru Gobind Singh here has given a boost to the prime ministerial ambitions of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who went all out to make the celebrations a grand success.
The warmth and hospitality accorded to around 4 lakh Sikhs—about 2 lakh from Punjab—to the spiritual leader’s birthplace, Patna, has bowled the community over, and given his JD(U) the confidence to target Punjab, which goes to polls next month.
JD(U) national secretary general K C Tyagi said the party had formed a unit in Punjab, but a final call on its foray into the state would be taken in the next four-five days.
The large number of Biharis in Punjab could turn out to be a deciding factor in the polls, experts believe.
Tyagi claimed that Nitish commands a huge respectability, and his acceptability as an “alternative leader” was proved during Prakash Parv.
On Thursday, he was leading the celebrations along in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Bihar CM had a warm meeting with his Punjab counterpart Parkash Singh Badal of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), who, Tyagi claimed, was in the JD(U)’s “scheme of things”.
Congress MP and former Punjab CM, Amarinder Singh has approached Nitish to campaign for the grand old party in Punjab.
Lalu Prasad of RJD, which is JD(U)’s coalition partner in Bihar, and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, whose AAP is “a natural ally” and is contesting in Punjab, were among several leaders of different parties to make their presence felt at the Parv, hoping to cash in on the celebrations.
Prasad made it to the Gandhi Maidan, the venue of the PM’s programme, although he could not make it to the dais alongside the PM on Thursday.
JD(U) has also been approached by Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) led by Simranjit Singh Mann, sources said.
More than 4 lakh Sikhs are estimated to have attended the celebrations which began on December 30 last year.
JD(U) is contesting nearly 100 seats in Uttar Pradesh in collaboration with RLD, NCP, and JDS. Tyagi said the party has a strong presence in western and eastern UP.
Nitish and Samajwadi Party (SP) Mulayam Singh yadav have not enjoyed the best of relations and the chasm between the two grew during Bihar assembly elections after the SP chief decided to contest on all assembly seats. Nitish reciprocated the gesture by turning down SP’s move of a grand alliance.