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Protests mark Nitish rallies

Patna, March 31: Nitish Kumar faced protests at two roadshows today, including one in his home turf of Nalanda.

While villagers in Asthawa, around 90km southeast of Patna, pelted him with stones, some people threw slippers at the chief minister while he was about to board a chopper in Khushrupur after a rally.

In Asthawa, the moment he stepped on the stage around 4pm, over 100 people displayed placards and started screaming: “Nitish Kumar murdabad. Road nahi toh vote nahi” (No road, no vote for Nitish Kumar). This was followed by stone pelting and the police had to resort to mild lathicharge to drive the agitating villagers away.

However, no one has been arrested yet.

A visibly angry Nitish said he was not afraid of incidents like these and would stick to his principles. Later, after getting details of the agitation’s cause, he promised to look into the matter. The chief minister went to address an election meeting in favour of the sitting MP, Kaushalendra Kumar, who had won the seat defeating Satish Kumar of the LJP by 1,52,666 votes in 2009.

According to the protesters, when Nitish had sought votes in 2009, he assured them that he would get the roads of Asthawa, barely 15km from Nitish’s village Kalyanbigha, constructed. “But the roads have not been built even five years after the promise. Nitishji is interested just in votes,” said an agitated youth stressing that the sitting MP had not even bothered to visit them.

However, JD(U) leaders blamed the political opponents. “Some criminals were used by our opponents to disturb the chief minister’s rally. It reflects the frustration gripping them,” said JD(U) spokesperson Sanjay Singh.

After the protesters were driven away, Nitish continued his election speech in which he alleged that the BJP’s election campaign was being funded by corporate houses. He also questioned the “Gujarat model” hype created by Narendra Modi.

Later in Khushrupur, protesters hurled slippers at Nitish when he was boarding a helicopter after addressing rally in favour of party candidate from Patna Sahib, Gopal Prasad Sinha. The police have detained one person in this connection.