When the world bends its back and twists to celebrate the healing powers of yoga on Tuesday, Bihar will be singing a completely different tune.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar has decided not to observe International Day of Yoga, apparently taking offence at the BJP-led central government cold shouldering his call for countrywide prohibition, an issue close to his heart.
Instead, the state will observe the World Music Day which coincides with the day the world celebrates the ancient Indian art.
“The Centre is spending huge money on promotion of yoga. It has converted yoga into a political ‘akhara’ (wrestling ground), whereas the fact is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is using it for self-branding,” said JD(U) spokesperson Sanjay Singh.
Bihar imposed prohibition in April and since then Kumar has been pushing the Centre and other states to follow suit.
Kumar has had a longstanding political rivalry with Modi. He broke off the JD-U’s years-old alliance with the BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls after Modi was named the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate.
While Modi went on to become the Prime Minister, Kumar returned as chief minister after trouncing the BJP in last year’s assembly polls. His promise of imposing total prohibition paid rich dividends with women voters backing the alliance of the JD (U), RJD and Congress.
Modi, on the other hand, takes pride in giving a global push to the ancient Indian practice of yoga. Last year, the United Nations dedicated June 21 to yoga.
The Bihar unit of BJP said Kumar’s decision to skip yoga day was “narrow minded”.
“We (the NDA government) got yoga international recognition, but Nitish Kumar is indulging in petty politics by not organising any event. It only shows his bankruptcy,” said senior BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav.
Though BJP will not organise any yoga programme, Union ministers Ravishankar Prasad, Giriraj Singh, Ram Kripal Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan are expected to attend separate functions of different organizations including Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth at Gandhi Maidan in Patna.
Kumar, however, has his reasons for linking yoga to prohibition.
During a public rally at Palamu in Jharkhand on Sunday, he said yoga was irrelevant without a country-wide ban on liquor.
“Yoga is a natural treatment process, which liquor addicts cannot perform.”
However, the official music day celebrations will have nothing new, according to officials – like every year, classical artistes will perform at a programme in Patna.
“We are not holding any function on yoga but are celebrating the World Music Day, which also falls the same day,” said a senior officer of the art, culture and youth affairs department.
The minister of the department Shiv Chandra Ram could not be reached for comments.
World Music Day, which originated in France in 1982, celebrates accessibility to good music and the special bond it creates between people across geographical barriers.