Nitish, Lalu rue Rajnath Singh's absence from ' satyagraha' anniversary in Patna

President Mukherjee

President Mukherjee

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was cheery, stating, "We offer thanks to those who showed up - and those who didn't".

In a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday said that nobody including the people in power can create a divide or instil fear in a nation like India.

Earlier, addressing the function, President Pranab Mukherjee said "we must celebrate India's diversity" to keep it united.

Mahatma Gandhi launched the non-violent agitation against the British rulers' decision to force farmers of the Champaran district to cultivate indigo for export on April 10, 1917. "By raising issues like triple talaq and cow protection, they want to divert the people's attention from real issues crippling the country", he said. "After witnessing the plight of Indians, Gandhi realised that India can not progress without independence", the Congress scion said.

Bihar former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi too had kept away from the function.

The President called upon the people to fight against communalism, sectarianism and parochialism and promote the spirit of "Indianness". "Gandhi Ji sacrificed his life to protect the dignity of truth and tri-colour", he said amidst clapping from the audience comprising octogenarian and nonagenarian freedom fighters who had gathered from several states to receive honour from the hand of the President.

Fifteen freedom fighters were personally felicitated by Mukherjee at a function that was attended by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Bihar Governor Ramnath Kovind, the RJD chief, his son and deputy chief minister Tejaswi Yadav, among others.

In all, 2,972 freedom fighters from across the country, including Bihar, would be honoured. "Most of the freedom fighters would reach here by Sunday night".

JD (U) leader KC Tyagi condemned the boycott by the BJP and pointed out that both Lalu Prasad and Rahul Gandhi had been invited because of the positions they held in their respective parties.

"Our country hails the truth and it does not matter who has the power". "... Did Mahatma Gandhi fight only to see a day when freedom fighters will be felicitated on a dais where people like Lalu Prasad are present?" he said.

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