Zee Media Bureau
Patna: Two days after the Janata Dal (United) called it quits with Bharatiya Janata Party, the friends-turned-foes on Tuesday clashed outside the BJP office here, leaving many injured.
While the principal opposition party observed `Vishwasghat Diwas` across Bihar, JD(U) and BJP workers beat each other up with bamboo sticks and iron rods in Patna during the shutdown, injuring nearly half a dozen workers of both the parties.
The clashes took place after the BJP workers raised slogan against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and JD-U workers countered them by raising slogan against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, a police official said.
The clash broke out on the Veer Chand Patel Path - location of their state unit offices.
Senior BJP leaders including CP Thakur, Sushil Kumar Modi, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Syed Shahnawaz Hussain were detained at Dak Bunglow chowk, police said.
Describing the bandh as "the biggest observed in Bihar since Emergency", Hussain said, "This is the beginning of the downfall of the Nitish government. We have not see such a massive shutdown earlier and JD(U) people will agree with me regarding the intensity of the bandh."
Maeanwhile addressing a press conference, Bihar BJP chief Mangal Pandey said, “We were attacked by armed JDU workers outside our office."
Hitting out at the Nitish government over secularism claims, Pandey said that BJP’s minority woman leader Fahida Khanum was assaulted and was singled out because of her religion and JD(U) talks of secularism.
“We want to thank the people of Bihar for fully supporting us in our `Bihar bandh` call,” Pandey further said.
The buses in which these leaders were being taken away to Gardanibagh stadium was thronged by BJP workers.
Earlier, the leaders led a protest march from party headquarters to Dak bunglow chowk in the heart of the town.
As the law and order situation appeared to get out of control, District Magistrate N Sarvanan Kumar and Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj rushed to the spot and pacified the warring groups.
Talking to reporters, Bihar unit BJP chief Mangal Pandey charged that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had instigated JD(U) workers to foil the BJP-sponsored bandh and attack its workers.
The bandh affected normal life with BJP workers forcing closure of shops, market places and disrupting movement of trains in the districts like Darbhanga and Nalanda - the native district of the Chief Minister, official sources said.
Bandh supporters also blocked roads in Aurangabad, Purnia, Muzaffarpur and other districts.
The day-long bandh has been called by BJP in protest against JD(U) parting ways with it in the wake of the appointment of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as BJP`s election campaign committee chief.
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said his party has taken to the streets in Bihar as people were feeling "deeply humiliated and cheated" since they had given the mandate to JD(U)-BJP to govern.
"We were governing very well. And suddenly, only because of ego and arrogance, you sought to break this alliance. Therefore, the people are really feeling very deceived. And to articulate that concern, we have hit the streets today," he told reporters here.
On `Brand Modi` taking BJP through in the Lok Sabha polls, Prasad said, "Modi is a very popular leader because of his governance, because of his integrity, because of his leadership...Whether he will become the Prime Ministerial candidate or not is a question which has to be decided by the party`s Parliamentary Board."
Taking on the Bihar Chief Minister, he said in 2003, Nitish Kumar had showered praised on Modi and maintained that he had material to serve the nation.
"What happened in ten years?," Prasad said and criticised Kumar for not extending the "due protocol" to the Gujarat Chief Minister when he came to Bihar in 2010.
The BJP leader accused Kumar of playing "politics of rank opportunism and convenience".
He said, "If Modi is one of the most popular leaders of India, it is Nitish Kumar who is having a problem on that score...It is basically pure and simple vote bank politics."
On Prime Minister Manmohan Singh describing Kumar as secular and the Bihar CM thanking him for the remark, Prasad said, "I am very happy that Nitishji was so desperate to get a certificate from the Prime Minister about his secular credentials. Good luck to him!"
"But he is known to have impeccable anti-Congress credentials. And if you are inching towards that for rank opportunism, I am sure the people of the country are watching," he said, adding that the people would give a fitting response.
Soon after the JD(U) ended its alliance, the BJP declared a black day that accused JD(U) of `vishwasghat` (treachery).
The JD(U) has 118 seats in the 243-member Assembly, four short of a majority, while the BJP has 91 members. There are six independents, while the Congress has four members.
(With Agency inputs)