Less than 100 km northwest of Patna, Sitabdiara had a second date with history on Tuesday.It was here that freedom fighter Loknayak Jaiprakash Narayan (JP) was born in 1902, and more than a century later, BJP leader LK Advani descended on this village to seek the blessings of the land before embarking on his 7,600-km journey.
The enthusiasm, building up in this village for the past 14 days, had more to do with the expectations and related developmental activities that such a visit could bring. The village did finally get power lines, 64 years after India's independence, with loads of other promises being made.
"It's a dream come true for us to see Advaniji. To date, we only heard about him," said Ramkinkarji, a villager.
As the village is close to Balia district of Uttar Pradesh, people from there too thronged the venue to hear Advani.
Advani, along with his daughter, Pratibha, landed at Sitabdiara at 11.20am and drove straight to JP's house. There emotions flowed as one of JP's relatives, Subhadhara Devi, applied chandan (pasted sandalwood) on Advani's forehead. "Kalyan kijiye (be merciful)," she said. "Bless me for the task I have undertaken," replied Advani.
After garlanding the statute of JP and penning his thoughts in the visitors' book, Advani spent 20 minutes before leaving for the rally venue.
"He is a simple and towering personality. We hope he is true to his words and cause," said Ravindra Kumar of Sitabdiara, a graduate.
The presence of a large number of young persons at both the places - Sitabdiara and Chapra - boosted the morale of BJP leaders. "At least we have got electricity though it remains to be seen how long it continues," said Ramadhar, another villager.
AC trouble for Sushma, jaitley
As senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley accompanied party veteran L K Advani from Chhapra to Patna on the modified bus acting as rath in the nationwide anti- corruption rally, a dysfunction in the air-conditioning of the bus led to Swaraj and Jaitley getting exhausted. The two leaders could not be present in Patna rally late in the evening. BJP sources said that AC dysfunction made the journey uncomfortable. On reaching Patna, both leaders decided to take rest and were later feeling better.
Gandhi Maidan turn into a food court
As BJP leader LK Advani arrived in Patna at 8pm instead of the scheduled 3pm, most of the people who had reached there by noon spent their time munching snacks and other eatables. Gandhi Maidan had turned into a vast, open food court. Ice-cream vendors did brisk business on a hot and humid day. And every cup, cone and stick was sold at a premium.
Nitish govt's days are numbered, says Lalu
Taking out a Rajbhavan march against senior LK Advani's yatra from Bihar, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad attacked the Nitish Kumar government for according a red-carpet reception to Advani. "The Nitish Kumar government, which welcomed Advani and accorded him a red-carpet reception during his yatra to vitiate communal harmony and peace, is not going to last for a long time now," Prasad told a well-attended public meeting. "The countdown of Nitish Kumar has begun." He warned his political opponents not to undermine the power of the RJD. "If anyone does that, it would be at his or her own risk," Prasad warned.