‘Bandh signals start of Nitish fall’

Friends-turned-foes, JD(U) and BJP, on Tuesday got an early glimpse of their workers’ angst as the BJP’s observance of an anti-JD(U) “betrayal day” and shutdown across Bihar saw their workers clashing violently in Patna and affecting normal life across the state.
BJP leaders and workers, excited about Narendra Modi’s emergence on the national stage and peeved at the JD(U)’s “backstabbing” by snapping ties, fervently enforced the day-long bandh, which got a mixed response statewide.
Despite the BJP’s promise that public transport will not be affected, several trains were forcibly halted at various stations and national highways were blocked by BJP workers. More than half the shops and marketplaces in the towns, including capital Patna, remained closed while government offices and banks stayed open.
Senior BJP leaders, including former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, national vice-president C.P. Thakur, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Syed Shahnawaz Hussain were detained along with hundreds of BJP workers in Patna. Mr Hussain described the “Vishwasghat Divas” and bandh as “the biggest observed in Bihar since the Emergency”, and said it signalled “the beginning of the Nitish government’s downfall”.
Patna’s Veer Chand Patel Marg, the street having the two estranged allies’ state headquarters on either side, saw a violent skirmish between the BJP and JD(U) workers that caused injury to about 15 supporters from both parties, including JD(U) state unit spokesman Rajiv Ranjan. The clash resulted apparently after BJP supporters objected to some JD(U) workers, led by Ranjan, marching towards their office. While BJP leaders accused the JD(U) of provoking violence, the JD(U) said BJP workers attacked first. Patna DM N. Sarvanan Kumar and SSP Manu Maharaj had to intervene to minimise the possibility of more such clashes. BJP’s Bihar president Mangal Pandey accused CM Nitish Kumar of instigating JD(U) workers to attack BJP supporters, including women.

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