: Amid criticism of playing politics over bodies, the Bharatiya Janata Party held the ‘Asthi Kalash’ (pitcher of ashes) yatra in Patna on Tuesday.
The ashes of the victims of the serial blasts at the Gandhi Maidan were immersed in the Ganges in an event attended by senior State BJP leaders.
The yatra travelled through 29 districts and the reached the BJP’s office in Patna in the afternoon, from where it set off to Gai Ghat, along the banks of the river.
“This yatra is in the memory of the six martyrs. It is an occasion to strengthen our resolve to stand united and fight terrorism. It is an appeal for peace and about spreading awareness about terrorism,” senior BJP leader and former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said.
The occasion was not devoid of politicking as the BJP targeted Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar again.
“Is it a crime to reach out to the martyrs, visit their homes and immerse their ashes in the river? The Bihar CM should have done that. It is because of his negligence that the lives were lost,” Mr. Modi said.
In the backdrop of the yatra, Mr. Kumar too attacked his Gujarat counterpart and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
“Only the people of Bihar can develop the State. Outsiders cannot develop Bihar. You have to be alert lest there is a full stop to the great work in Bihar. You have to realise your inner strength and that we will stand united as Biharis and revive the legacy of this State,” Mr. Kumar said at a function here.
Political rivals slammed the BJP’s yatra as a pure political manoeuvre in view of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
“All this is being done only for political mileage. The BJP has gained earlier by whipping up communal sentiments. They are sticking to this strategy,” Janata Dal (United) State president Bashishtha Narayan Singh told The Hindu.
“The Patna blasts are not the first terror attack in the country. But the BJP has never held any such yatra earlier. Therefore, it is clear that they are doing it with an eye on the polls. The RJD condemns it as an inappropriate move,” senior RJD leader Ram Kripal Yadav said.
The Congress too dismissed the yatra as being “totally politically motivated.”
“It has nothing to do with those who died. If [Narendra Modi’s] visit to the families was a humane gesture, why did he not do the same in Gujarat? Who is not against terrorism? But what kind of appeal of peace is the BJP going to make when they are whipping up communal sentiment,” State Congress president Ashok Choudhary said.
While Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan upheld every party’s right to organise its own programme and expressed sympathy with the blast victims, he warned against “politicisation” of their plight.