Bihar bandh turns violent

Bihar bandh turns violent

The Bihar bandh called by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to protest against Nitish Kumar’s decision to walk out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) turned violent on Tuesday, with leaders of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) clashing with the saffron brigade on the streets of Patna.

At least eight BJP and six JD-U leaders, including spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan,  were injured. Ranjan was later admitted to hospital.

The BJP observed the day as “Vishwashghat Diwas (betrayal day).” The bandh evoked mixed response elsewhere. While shops and business establishments remained closed in a show of solidarity with the BJP, government and private offices operated as usual. Schools were already closed for summer vacation.

Train service and traffic were badly hit across the state as the BJP supporters blocked NH-31, NH-83 and NH-101. They also blocked railway tracks in Kumar’s home turf Nalanda and shouted slogans against him. In Patna, the BJP leaders smeared Kumar’s posters with black paint.

“This kind of spontaneous response is akin to the students’ movement during the JP agitation in 1974,” said former deputy chief minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi.

BJP spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Rajiv Pratap Rudy termed the attack by the JD-U “goons” a replica of “the Lalu Raj.”

“Today, there is no difference between Lalu and Nitish,” said Rudy. He told mediapersons how a Muslim woman worker of the BJP was assaulted by the JD-U leaders in front of the BJP office on Beer Chand Patel Marg.

The JD-U dismissed the BJP charges and said this was “the frustration of a rudderless BJP leadership in Bihar which was scared to face the Assembly.”

“When we have convened a special session of the Assembly on June 19, where we will seek a vote of confidence, what was the need for the BJP to call a Bihar bandh on June 18? The show of strength should have been in the House and not on the streets, which has caused immense hardship to the common man,” said JD-U spokesperson Neeraj Kumar.

Meanwhile, all eyes will be on the Assembly session on Wednesday. The JD-U, which has 118 MLAs in the 243-member House, met four independent candidates on Tuesday to ensure that the party reaches the magic figure of 122 comfortably.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal, which has 22 members, has decided to vote against Kumar, along with the 91 BJP members. The CPI, which has just one legislator, has decided to back Kumar, while the four-member Congress is keeping its cards close to its chest. The Congress may abstain from voting, thereby helping Kumar to scrape through.

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