Man held for flinging shoe at Bihar CM during Janata Durbar

The Indian endemic of throwing shoes at politicians, which was in hiatus for a while, seems to be starting again. A young man was arrested by police in Patna after he hurled a shoe at Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi during his weekly 'Janata Durbar' or public meeting.

The shoe missed the chief minister, who was seated while receiving complaints from the people.

The man, identified as Amitesh Kumar from Chhapra of Saran district, was said to be fed up with visiting the Janata Durbar for the last two years without result.

He was also heard accusing the chief minister of promoting caste politics in the state.

As security personnel manhandled him into custody he shouted, ''Please kill me ... I don't want to live now ... I'm fed up with the system and this farce of the Janata Durbar.

''Only grievance letters and papers are being collected here; no one bothers to take action on them. I've been visiting here for the last two years but no one takes care of grievances.'' He kept shouting along similar lines while being hustled in police custody.

The 'Janta Darbar' was started by Manjhi's predecessor Nitish Kumar, head of the Janata Dal (United), where the chief minister listens to grievances from the public directly every Monday; and Manjhi has kept up the practice.

Like most things 'Indian', shoe-throwing at politicians didn't originate here. The idea took root in 2008, when Iraqi cameraman Muntadar al-Zaidi threw two shoes at United States President George W Bush while the president was visiting Baghdad.

Al-Zaidi was brutally brought down and incarcerated, but the idea took hold in India where flinging a shoe at someone is as insulting as in Arab cultures. Some months later, a Punjab-based journalist flung a slipper at India's then finance minister P Chidambaram.

Chidambaram and his team, however, were more restrained in their reaction. The man was not beaten to the ground – he was quietly led out by party workers, with the finance minister murmuring ''gently, gently'' from the podium.

Later, throwing shoes at politicians took on such proportions that there was a serious project by the Indian government to put up safety nets on podia to deter such 'attacks'!

The craze seemed to have died down until Chhapra's action. It is not known what his precise grievance was; Police said the man is being interrogated.

One hopes that he is let of lightly – in the climate of the times, when India's politicians are widely perceived as rapacious rascals, his act is likely to draw more sympathetic chuckles than opprobrium from the public.