Half a dozen hurt, trains stopped in BJP's Bihar shutdown

Patna, June 18 (IANS) Nearly half-a-dozen people were injured here in a clash, and several trains stopped, roads blocked and top BJP leaders taken into custody across Bihar during the party's state-wide shutdown Tuesday to protest what it called a betrayal by the JD-U.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed that the shutdown was near total, but police said normal life was not hit by the stir. Top BJP leaders and more than 500 workers were taken into custody during the shutdown, a police official said.

"Normal life was not hit by BJP's shutdown in Patna and other district headquarters across the state," said an official at the police headquarters here.

According to police, hundreds of BJP workers led by party leaders took to the streets across the state but failed to receive support of the people.

"Only BJP workers, leaders and some of their supporters with placards, party flags and banners in their hands, joined the protest during the shutdown," a district police official told IANS here.

Bihar BJP president Mangal Pandey, however, told media persons here that it was a near-total shutdown. "People have supported the shutdown," he asserted.

Top BJPs leaders including Ravi Shankar Prasad, Shahnawaz Hussain, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, and Sushil Kumar Modi were taken into custody when they protested here during the shutdown, said Patna's Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj.

Hours after the shutdown began, nearly half-a-dozen people were injured in a clash here, and several trains stopped and roads blocked across the state.

Several trains were forcibly halted and national highway blocked Tuesday as BJP workers and leaders began a state-wide shutdown to protest the "betrayal" by ruling party Janata Dal-United (JD-U) that ended its 17-year-old alliance Sunday.

The cracks between the BJP and JD-U appeared when Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar opposed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP's decision to make Modi its public face for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

An angry BJP is observing Tuesday as 'Vishwasghat Diwas' in the state.

Nearly half a dozen workers of BJP and JD-U were injured when they clashed and attacked each other with bamboo sticks and iron rods in Patna during the shutdown.

According to police officials here, JD-U spokesperson Rajeev Ranjan and three other party leaders were injured when BJP workers attacked them following the clash.

The clashes took place after the BJP workers raised slogans against Nitish Kumar and JD-U workers countered them by raising slogans against Narendra Modi, a police official said.

The BJP workers stopped half a dozen trains, including long route trains, at different railway stations across the state.

"Several trains were halted," a police officer told IANS.

Roads, including the national highway, were blocked at various places across the state.

"The strike supporters, mostly BJP workers, blocked important roads, including the national highway and state highways, at various place," said a police official.

In Patna, the shutdown evoked mixed response with busy roads like Ashok Rajpath, Bailey Road, Patna-Danapur Road and Fraser Road being blocked.

Shops and markets were closed in some areas.

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.

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