Senior BJP leaders Ravi Shankar Prasad, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Shahnawaz Hussain, ex-Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Sushil Kumar Modi and State president of the BJP Mangal Pandey courted arrest along with other leaders when a war of words between the JD(U) and BJP escalated into a street fight during a Bihar bandh on Tuesday.
The BJP observed the bandh as a “day of betrayal” to protest the JD(U)’s pullout from the NDA.
Supporters of the two parties clashed on the Veerchand Patel Marg where both their party offices are located.
While BJP workers were staging protests and decrying Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, JD(U) supporters, led by its spokesperson Rajeev Ranjan, intercepted them with anti-Narendra Modi slogans.
The volatile mood soon gave way to a scuffle. Supporters beat one another with flag rods and tyres were also burnt.
Sparking fresh tension, a rifle was found in a vehicle outside the JD(U) office, which is a stone’s throw away from the BJP office. The police recovered the vehicle and the rifle, which was found to be licensed by JD(U) leader Munna Patel.
Fehmida Katun of the BJP’s minority and women’s wing filed a police complaint alleging that she was assaulted by JD(U) leaders Ranjan and Arvind Kumar alias Chotu. She claimed they targeted her for being a Muslim and threatened her using obscene language.
Patna saw a near-total bandh as shops and commercial establishments remained shut for the first half of the day. In other places, BJP supporters blocked roads and highways. They also blocked trains in four places in the State, the railways said.
The police made 4,096 preventive arrests, SK Bhardwaj, Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, told The Hindu. There was heavy police bandobast in the State. In Patna alone, around 600 forces were deployed.
Two cases under Section 107 (abetment) and Section 151 (assembly of five or more persons) have been registered against both the party workers.
At a press conference, the BJP slammed the JD(U) for its “attack on democracy.” “When one party announces its programme, the opposite party never intervenes. The JD(U) had not announced any march,” Mr. Pandey said.
“Why did JD(U) workers come to our office? What did they want to show? This is very unfortunate,” Mr. Sushil Modi said.
The JD(U) said there was “no occasion for the bandh.”
The party is now preparing for party president Rajnath Singh’s visit on June 23.
It will be meeting on Wednesday morning, ahead of the vote of confidence in the Assembly, to decide its strategy in the House.
Meanwhile, Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad said the party would vote against Mr. Kumar during the vote of confidence.
The JD(U) has 118 MLAs and needs four more to sail through. All eyes are on the six independents, four of whom are expected to support the JD(U).
The Congress, which has four MLAs, will take a call on Wednesday morning, the party said.