Dumka, Feb. 1: Traffic disruptions were the order of the day in Dumka today as most public vehicles stayed off the road. While a sizeable number of vehicles had been taken away by JMM workers for the party's midnight rally tomorrow, the remaining ones chose not to ply, fearing backlash from the cadres.
JMM supporters have been seizing buses and other public vehicles, which they will use to ferry party workers to rally venue at Gandhi maidan, for the past couple of days besides collecting hefty donations from goods carriers. As a result, around 200 buses and other vehicles, which ply from Dumka bus and maxi stands, did not hit the road today. Those who did come out stopped plying midway, leaving passengers in the lurch.
Several private buses that were coming to Dumka from outside asked the passengers to get off on the outskirts of the town. Left with no other option, they had to cover 5km to 7km on foot with children and luggage in tow. "I reached Dumka late last night and was scheduled to catch a bus to Suri in Bengal this morning. But there is no bus and I have no option but to wait for two days," said a stranded passenger, Vijay Thakur.
According to sources, the JMM cadres are leaving no stone unturned to ensure maximum turnout at the historic rally and will send vehicles to bring people from different parts of the district and adjoining areas. "Earlier, we used to hand over buses to JMM on our own either on the previous evening or morning of February 2 so that the public is not inconvenienced. But this time, the workers are seizing the vehicles by force," said a booking clerk at Dumka bus stand. He claimed that the party paid a paltry amount to the bus owners, which was not enough to meet the cost of diesel and staff.
DSP (I) Anil Kumar Srivastava admitted that a police team rushed to Maharo near Dumka after they received information that buses were being forcefully taken away by JMM supporters. "All police stations have been directed to keep a strict vigil," he added.
The JMM also came in for flak from the Congress, which tried to hit its rival where it hurts the most by organising a tribal party workers' conference of Jama block unit in Vijaypur today.
The meet, which saw a footfall of around 1,000, was aimed at strengthening Congress's support base among the tribals of Santhal Pargana, which has been traditionally known to support the Sorens.
"Shibu Soren has lost his magic as tribals have started realising that JMM can do them no good. I found no enthusiasm among tribals about the February 2 JMM rally," senior Congress leader Furkan Ansari said.
He added that the Congress would organise a massive divisional-level rally in Dumka on March 2, exactly a month after the JMM's rally.
"The March 2 gathering will break all records of previous rallies held in Dumka in many ways," he claimed.
Around 1,000 Congress workers had turned up at today's programme.