Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday praised Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar over his controversial move to ban liquor in the state despite objections from all quarters, calling it a “courageous step”.
“Social change is a very tough thing to forge, yet he has shown remarkable ability in implementing prohibition. I want to request everyone in Bihar to remember it’s not only Nitish’s job but that of society as a whole to improve, and if this policy is successful in Bihar, the whole country will be inspired,” PM Modi was quoted as saying by NDTV news channel.
He was speaking at a public meeting to celebrate the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th guru of the Sikhs who was born in Bihar.
Modi’s praise for Kumar comes after he backed the Prime Minister’s demonetisation of two high-value currency note in November last year even as his allies — the Congress and Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal — trained their guns on the government over the surprise decision.
“Nobody can carry away anything he hoards after death, yet people try to make money for the next seven generations. There is no pocket in the shroud for money, yet people take bribe. I don’t know why they do it and how much money they want,” Kumar said in his support for the PM’s decision.
In 2013, Kumar walked out of an 18-year-alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over its decision to pick Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. His party managed to win just 2 of Bihar’s 40 seats in the national election in Bihar, while the BJP cornered 22.
In the 2015 Bihar assembly elections, Kumar’s Janata Dal(United) allied with Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal to form a Grand Alliance that dealt a major blow to the BJP in the state.
Kumar’s stand on the demonetisation came as a blow to the Congress, which tried to stitch together a united opposition against Modi over the decision that resulted in a massive cash shortage and forced people to queue outside banks and ATMs to deposit old currency and withdraw money.