PATNA: Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief and former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha and over 60 workers and leaders of the party were injured in a police lathi-charge during a protest march in Patna on Saturday.
A clash took place between policemen and hundreds of RLSP workers when the latter, led by Kushwaha, were marching through Patna’s thoroughfares to Raj Bhawan to submit a memorandum on educational reforms to Governor Lalji Tandon.
Kushwaha, who served as Union minister of state for human resource development before resigning and joining Bihar’s Opposition Grand Alliance in December last, lost consciousness during the clash with the cops and was rushed to Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), said RLSP leaders. Many of the party’s injured workers were also hospitalised, they added.
“He (Kushwaha) received injuries on his head, back and arms during the barbaric lathi-charge, which was a pre-planned exercise by the Nitish Kumar-led government aimed at sowing fear in our resurgent party,” said Madhaw Anand, RLSP’s national general secretary. Anand himself was also injured as he was accompanying Kushwaha during the march.
Hundreds of lathi-wielding RLSP supporters took part in the protest march, christened ‘Jan Akrosh Rally’ (rally of public angst), which aimed at persuading the state government to initiate a set of educational reforms. Kushwaha, when he was a Union minister, had organised such programmes across the state to raise awareness about reforms in education.
The lathi-charge, coming a day before Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s scheduled ‘Jan Akanksha Rally’ (rally of public aspirations) in Patna, added a little more glue among the Grand Alliance parties as they unanimously accused the state government of orchestrating the lathi-charge.
“This act of attack by police on the RLSP chief during a peaceful demonstration by his party’s supporters is against the values of democracy and shows the dictatorial mindset of Nitish Kumar,” said Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav. “We condemn the police action on our RLSP colleagues,” said Congress state president Madan Mohan Jha.
The ruling JD(U) and BJP, however, said the GA parties were projecting a “mild lathi-charge aimed at controlling unruly protesters” as a big attack to gain public sympathy. “What was he (Kushwaha) doing in the years he remained Union education minister? What message were his supporters sending out by holding lathis in their hands in the rally?” asked JD(U) spokesperson Ajay Alok.