In a charm offensive after the controversy stoked by MNS leader Raj Thackeray over his visit, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday said that being a Bihari did not mean taking an "anti-Maharashtra" stand and people from his home state were not a burden on anyone.
Beginning his speech in Marathi at a function organised in Mumbai to mark the centenary of the foundation of Bihar state, Kumar said "Marathi is such a sweet language. People of Maharashtra are so good" and invited the people of the state to Bihar.
"You have the knowledge and the skills and celebrate Maharashtra day in Bihar," he said.
"I don't understand why problems arise sometimes. We are all Indians and together have to work for the progress and development of our country, as there are so many pressing issues facing us today."
"Mumbai is a part of India and each and every Indian is proud ot if," he said.
A war of words had erupted betwen Thackeray and Kumar after MNS threatened to disrupt Bihar's centenary celebrations to be attended by the chief minister here.
Reacting sharply to MNS' stand, Kumar had said no one could stop him from attending the event and he did not require a "visa" to travel to Mumbai.
However, in a climbdown Thackeray later said he has no objection to the celebrations following an assurance from Kumar over phone that the event has no political agenda.
"People from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh are not a burden on anyone. In fact, they share the burden of their adopted city and state, while contributing to the progress and development of that region," Kumar said.
Kumar said Bihar and Maharashtra had a lot in common.
"Both the states are the lands of saints and progressive thinkers, social reformers," he said referring to his state as the land of Lord Buddha, Mahavir, Aryabhatta and Chankaya.
He said leaders from Maharashtra Dr BR Ambedkar, Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, Shivaji Maharaj, Mahatma Phule were national icons.
The chief minister said Mahatma Gandhi started his freedom struggle from Champaran in 1917 and in Mumbai in 1942 gave the clarion call of quit india and do or die.
He said that Biharis were hardworking and dedicated people, who have carved a niche for themselves by making contributions to the progress and development of the city, where they live.
Highlighting his seven-year rule in Bihar, Kumar said the state is changing for good and if people of Bihari origin in Mumbai want to celebrate the progress and development that is taking place on the occasion of the 100th year of the foundation, he saw no reason why anybody should object to it.
"Mumbai is part of India. But, Biharis have travelled to other countries as well. Look at Mauritius. More than half of the population is of Bihari origin. We should be proud of our ancestors, who worked so hard. Biharis earn their bread and butter by working hard. They never lie or ditch others," he said, adding that wherever they go, they make their adopted city their home and live in harmony with the local people.
He said people should travel to different parts of the country and contribute to the progress and development. "This is the constitutional right given to us by Dr Ambedkar," he said.
Kumar said even though Bihar had remained backward in the last few years despite having rich cultural and political history, the wheel of fortune will again turn in favour of the state.
"The credit is not mine, but that of the people of Bihar," he said adding that they have made a pledge to create such a state that its people need not venture out in search of livelihood.
"Percentage of migration from Bihar has reduced. In Punjab, there are less migrant farm labourers from Bihar and farmers in Punjab are complaining," he said.
Kumar also met corporate honchos in the business capital and invited India Inc to invest in his state, touting the industrial policy announced by his government last year.
"The state offers tremendous business opportunities in sectors such as solar energy, education, healthcare etc," Nitish Kumar told the industrialists at an hour-long meeting.
The meeting was attended by Vedanta Group Chairman Anil Agarwal, Bharat Forge Group Chief Baba Kalyanai, ICICI Bank's CMD Chanda Kochhar and Axis Bank's chief Shikha Sharma , besides Tata Motors' Vice Chairman Ravi Kant, Tata Consultancy CFO, S Mahalingam, L&T CEO and MD, K Venkataraman, Bajaj Finance MD Sanjiv Bajaj, Koatak Mahindra Bank's Vice Chairman and Managing Director Uday Kotak, Ambuja Cement MD Onne Van Der Weijde and Future Group head Kishore Biyani among others.
Responding to Nitish's appeal, diamond industry leader Shreya Doshi announced plans to invest Rs 500 crore in the state while Adani group said it would set up a power project in Bihar, a release by Bihar Foundation which had arranged the meeting between industry leaders and the CM, said.
Besides, Tata Motors would support four ITIs in the state under the Public Private Partnership model, it said.