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Mauritius PM strikes a chord in Bihar
Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna | February 18, 2008 13:44 IST
Last Updated: February 19, 2008 00:39 IST
Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam surprised everyone, including Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, when he touched the soil and applied it on his forehead as a mark of respect to Bihar, the land of his ancestors.
Ramgoolam arrived in Patna on Monday on his three-day visit to Bihar.
"I was surprised when Ramgoolamji touched the soil and applied it on his forehead to pay respect to the land of his ancestors," Nitish Kumar told reporters after he received the Mauritius Prime Minister.
Nitish Kumar said soon after Ramgoolam set foot on the land, he bowed before the soil of Bihar, touched it and applied it on his forehead.
On his first visit to Bihar, Ramgoolam was accompanied by his wife Veena and a 50-member official delegation, including a cultural team.
The Mauritius prime minister, accompanied by Nitish Kumar, will visit Siwan in north Bihar on Tuesday morning to offer prayers at the Sukla Toli Hanuman [Images] Mandir. Later, he will visit his ancestral village Harigaon in Bhojpur district, where he will spend at least three hours with villagers.
He will also take part in a public reception organised in his honour by the state government in the village.
Ramgoolam's grandfather Mohit was one of the labourers forcibly taken by the British to work in sugarcane plantations in 1871 from villages across Bihar.
Ramgoolam also announced a sum of $2,50,000 for development of Harigaon in Bhojpur district - his ancestral village in Bihar.
He said that though his ancestors went to the island nation from Bhojpur district, for him, Bihar was the birth place. Ramgoolam spoke in Bhojpuri, the language of over 60 per cent of the people of his country.
He also announced annual scholarships to two students from Bihar.
On Monday, he unveiled a life-size statue of his father, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, who led Mauritius to independence from Britain and became the first prime minister of the island nation, at the southern end of the Gandhi Maidan.
The state government named the road from J P Roundabout to the Subhash Park Sir Sewoosagur Ramgoolam Road.