|(Above) Farmers, claiming to be JD(U) workers, shout slogans against the government outside the party office in Patna on Friday, (below) the broken trunk of a tree hurled at the office
and a smashed flower pot on the premises. Pictures by Nagendra Kumar Singh
The ruling JD(U) faced protests from within on Friday. A battery of farmers, purportedly Dal supporters, laid siege to the party’s state headquarters in the afternoon in protest against rampant black-marketing of urea and cooking gas connection.
The 200-odd bamboo stick-wielding protesters forced their way into the party office around 1pm. Spotting the angry farmers, around 10 office-bearers locked themselves inside two rooms on the first floor of the building.
Giving slogans against agriculture minister Narendra Singh and food and consumer protection minister Shyam Rajak, the protesters went on the rampage. They banged on the doors and windows of the conference room with bamboos sticks.
Some of the agitated farmers hurled branches of trees at the office. A few smashed tree pots amid cheers from peers. The farmers also jeered Singh and Rajak (both of Dal) for allegedly shielding the blackmarketeers and sought their dismissal.
After half-an-hour, sanity prevailed on the agitators. The JD(U)’s farmers’ cell members stopped violence and started a demonstration outside the party office premises, allowing the office-bearers to muster courage to unlock themselves.
The demonstration of the farmers continued for half-an-hour. Ramesh Singh, one of the demonstrators, told The Telegraph: “The officers in the agriculture and food and consumer protection departments are corrupt. We are buying a packet of urea priced at Rs 281 for Rs 450. Similar practice exists in the food and consumer protection department. Gas connections are being provided in lieu of Rs 5,000 instead of Rs 1,950.”
He said: “The 20 panchayats in Dhanarua block have more than one lakh population. Each one of them is facing the problem of black-marketing. What kind of susashan (good governance) chief minister Nitish Kumar is talking about?”
Another JD(U) worker, Vaid Prakash Kumar, said: “It’s been more than six years of Nitish regime, but the condition of roads in our block is pathetic. We complained to the party office several times, but nobody seems to have conveyed our message to the chief minister. The office-bearers and the secretaries of the party are least bothered about our problems. They just like to sit in air-conditioned rooms.”
Party worker Abhay Singh said: “Dal MLA Arun Manjhi and MP Ranjan Prasad Yadav never visit our block. But whenever there is election, they come and beg for votes. They are also responsible for our plight and have no right to represent our constituency.”
After the farmers left around 2pm, a party office-bearer said: “Vandalism will be of no help to the farmers. They should speak to the minister concerned or the officials of the department.”
The JD(U) state president, Basistha Narayan Singh, and the two accused ministers — Rajak and Singh, were not available for comments.