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Chopper way to dodge protests

- BJP blockades fail to stop Nitish rally

Banka/Bhagalpur, Jan. 29: Braving widespread blockades created by his ally-turned-fierce rival, the BJP, on his way to Sankalp Yatra, Nitish Kumar today succeeded in organising an impressive rally at Chakmunia village of the Bhagalpur division and blazing all guns against Narendra Modi.

Without naming Modi, Nitish said: “The man who has disregard for the secular fabric of the country will not be acceptable as the Prime Minister. They (BJP) are under the delusion that there was a wave blowing in their favour. This so-called wave is based on afwah (rumour) generated by artificial blower. It will peter out in face of reality,” Nitish said during the rally.

It is not that Nitish said something new. What might have unnerved the BJP was the fact that he had pulled an impressive crowd of about 50,000 at the Muslim-dominated Chakmunia village in the region considered to be the stronghold of the BJP.

With the Banka MP, Putul Kumari Singh, joining the BJP, the party has now both the Lok Sabha seats in the region — Bhagalpur and Banka — in its pocket. Shahnawaz Hussain represents the Bhagalpur seat in the Lok Sabha. Though the Muslims constitute 25 per cent of the electorate in Bhagalpur, the BJP, riding the deep social divide after the 1989 riots, thrives on the Hindu consolidation in the region.

The BJP cadre led by former health minister and Bhagalpur MLA Ashwini Kumar Choubey indulged in shutdown, dharnas, demonstration besides vandalising some private and public property on the Bhagalpur-Banka road today to show its strength and stop Nitish from organising his rally.

Nitish had a night halt at Bhagalpur circuit house.

The BJP cadre, aided by Industrial Training Institute (ITI) students, began their protest with Nitish landing in Bhagalpur yesterday. While the ITI students paraded on the streets protesting against the cancellation of exams of their last semester, Choubey, with his over 100 supporters, squatted today on the Kutchery Road, which leads to the rally venue at Chakmunia in Banka from Bhagalpur.

The police picked up Choubey and his supporters to push them in a van. But Choubey jumped out and began his violent protest. Choubey and his supporters succeeded in stopping Nitish from taking a road route to Chakmunia. But Nitish used a chopper to land at the crowded rally venue.

Probably, the violent protest by the BJP goaded the Muslims to get united and register their presence at the Nitish’s rally. Nitish used the occasion to his advantage by enumerating a series of follow-up actions he had taken against the culprits of the 1989 Bhagalpur riots. “We carried out fresh investigation into the cases of the riots and ensure conviction to the culprits through the process of speedy trial. We began paying Rs 2,500 per month as pension to the riot victims which we have decided to double now,” Nitish said, iterating his commitment to ensure communal harmony and peace at all costs.

Nitish ridiculed the recent electoral surveys, describing them as “sponsored”.

“The surveys show that 63 per cent people have been appreciating our work. But they will not vote for us. It is simply surprising,” he said, asking: “If 63 per cent people were appreciative of our performance, why will not they vote for us?”