Patna: 2.30 pm: Opposition leader and former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad slams the rally as a political gimmick, says it is not the Centre that grants special status but the CMs of all states.
2.09 pm: Nitish Kumar says the Janata Dal United will organise a Adhikar rally in Delhi's Ramlila ground in March 2013.
1.30 pm: Nitish Kumar addresses crowds, says PM refused each time the Bihar government raised the demand for granting special status to Bihar.
11.20 am: Adhikar rally begins in Patna. CM Nitish Kumar joins the dais at the rally venue. The rally is to demand a special status for Bihar.
It's the mother of all rallies in Bihar. The Adhikar rally by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday will seek special status for the state. And the government has left no stone unturned in ensuring its success, spending a humongous Rs 50 crore on it. Although Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are in power jointly in the state, the rally is a Nitish show all the way.
Patna has been painted green, courtesy all the banners, hoardings and billboards of JDU occupying every inch of open space in the city. The entire Bihar government, including Parliamentarians, ministers and legislators, are working overtime to mobilise people for the mega rally.
The cost, however, is enormous. As per rough estimates, over Rs 50 crore has been spent on it. Eight trains and 20,000 buses have been booked for ferrying people from far flung areas, which alone cost Rs 17 crore. The money spent on food and lodging for 5 lakh participants could be astronomical.
And this does not include the money government departments will spend to facilitate the rally. When quizzed, even JD(U) ministers failed to explain just who was spending all the money. The administration, on its part, has left no stone unturned to aid JD(U)'s endeavour. Over 12,000 additional cops, 1,000 municipal workers, 12 mobile anti-riot vehicles and bomb disposal squads are on standby.
The Opposition, however, has cried foul. The rally is being seen as muscle flexing by Nitish ahead of the 2014 General Elections. But the rally has already seen several controversies like the one over posters of controversial JD(U) leaders, and allegations of extortion. With Patna's roads likely to be clogged for the next two days, it could very well end up irking the city residents too.