|Chief minister Nitish Kumar stages a dharna at the Gandhi Maidan in Patna. Picture by Deepak Kumar
Patna, March 2: Even in “Gandhigiri”, Nitish Kumar had a cakewalk today.
During his walk of five and odd kilometres, the chief minister hardly faced any problems with two-tier security ring around him. However, the Gandhian way of protest did not reflect in the behaviour of scores of JD(U) supporters who had allegedly stopped autorickshaws on streets and forced trains to halt across the state.
Nitish had called a bandh for the first time in his capacity as chief minister and the impact was visible since morning as supporters had started gathering along with drums on the Bailey Road stretch he was to walk. Even before the chief minister hit the road, many senior leaders, including Rajya Sabha MP RCP Singh and education minister P.K. Shahi, made a beeline to join him.
In front of his official residence, 1 Aney Marg, a truck was parked with a sound system playing patriotic songs like Mere desh ki dharti and Ye desh hai veer jawano ko at high volume.
Nitish started his 5km-walk from 1 Aney Marg around 11.20am along with cabinet minister and legislators like Shyam Rajak, Bheem Singh, Shahi, Sanjay Singh, Poonam Devi while his supporters raised slogans like “Sonia jiski mummy hai, wo sarkar nikammi hai”.
Just 15 minutes into the walk, video journalists and photographers started falling on each other, injuring themselves while trying to cover Nitish’s walk.
No sooner had he touched Bailey Road than hundreds of supporters joined him with posters and banners. Unlike Lalu, who had walked down to the Assembly building and Raj Bhavan on February 25 with lot of anger on face, Nitish was calm.
Many supporters had come carrying dhol-nagara and kept beating it. Many had gathered beside the road to catch a glimpse of Nitish but very few could succeed. During Lalu’s march, many joined him but it was not to happen with Nitish’s case. Those who tried to break the security ring to come close to Nitish were simply thrown out by the security personnel.
At every 100 metres, a group of supporters used to join the march. Law, planning and development minister Narendra Narayan Yadav joined Nitish near the Boring Road Crossing but after showing his face for five minutes, he chose to catch his official car. By the time, Nitish reached the Dakbungalow roundabout from where he took a turn towards Fraser Road on way to Gandhi Maidan, around 1,000 supporters had accumulated.
JD(U) state unit president Bashishtha Narayan Singh joined Nitish from Maurya and walked for around 200 metres. It took Nitish more than one-and-a-half hours to cover 5km to reach the world’s highest (72ft) statue of Mahatma Gandhi at 12.44pm. He paid floral tributes and walked towards the stage to sit on Satyagraha along with his cabinet colleagues, including Nitish Mishra and Vijay Kumar Choudhary.
As it was decided to sit on Sataygraha till 5pm, the rest of the time spent on giving speeches and patriotic songs. Shaibal Gupta, member-secretary, Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI), was asked to give full description regarding the benefits the state would get after getting the special category status. Gupta, in his speech, said Seemandhra would be the first state to be given special category status despite being located in the coastal region.
Bashishtha claimed that it was a successful bandh. However, on the other hand, Nitish said he was forced to call for a bandh after being neglected and discriminated by the UPA government. Nitish added that his motive was not to trouble anyone and also accepted that something may have happened due to bandh. “I am not doing this for chair, I am just doing it for the people of Bihar,” he iterated.
The RJD chief, Lalu Prasad, in his inimitable style, charged Nitish of following the path shown by him. “When I walked from my residence to the Assembly, I was charged of creating trouble in the protected zone. What was the chief minister doing today?” he asked.
Former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi also attacked Nitish and termed his Satyagraha “big drama”. Modi added that he should better do it at the door of the Prime Minister in Delhi. Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Nand Kishore Yadav said the bandh was unsuccessful and called it a “political stunt”.