Nitish protests, wants special status for Bihar
A shutdown called by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar seeking "special status" for Bihar evoked mixed response Sunday, with his supporters blocking road and rail traffic across the state.
Normal life was hit in many areas as thousands of Janata Dal-United activists took to the streets.
Nitish Kumar and his cabinet colleagues from the JD-U staged a day-long protest, which the chief minister described as Satyagraha popularised by Mahatma Gandhi.
Large groups of JD-U activists, at places running into hundreds, squatted on rail tracks all over the state, disrupting train traffic.
They also blocked national and state highways.
Nitish Kumar is pressing the Congress-led central government to give "special status" to help Bihar develop economically.
Accompanied by hundreds of slogans-shouting party leaders and supporters, including Bollywood filmmaker Prakash Jha, Nitish Kumar walked from his official residence here to the Gandhi Maidan for the sit-in.
In the evening, he said only a special status category would help Bihar to develop. "We will fight till the central government accords the status to Bihar."
Police said JD-U supporters halted over three dozen trains, stranding hundreds of passengers at Patna, Gaya, Jehanabad, Bhagalpur, Nalanda, Muzaffarpur, Madhepura, Saharsa and Darbhanga railway stations.
Buses, trucks and other vehicles were off the roads. In Patna, most markets remained close.
In some places, JD-U workers clashed with people who opposed the shutdown.
Nitish Kumar has accused the central government of deliberately denying special category status to Bihar while granting it to Seemandhara, the residual state in Andhra Pradesh.
"It is a betrayal of the people of Bihar by the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government," he said.
(Posted on 02-03-2014)