An argument between two elected representatives in Uttar Pradesh over names on foundation stones for projects turned ugly Wednesday after BJP MP from Sant Kabir Nagar, Sharad Tripathi rained blows with his shoe on Menhdawal BJP MLA Rakesh Singh Baghel.
The fracas, videos of which surfaced on social media, erupted at a meeting in the district collectorate comprising not just senior administration and police officers but Ashutosh Tandon, the BJP minister in charge of the district, who attempted to stop the fight.
Watch video: BJP leaders come to blows at party meet in UP
The videos show Tripathi (47) hitting Baghel (30) with his shoe after they argue over the foundation stone. Baghel then rises and tries to assault Tripathi when police officers step in, separated the two and escort Tripathi out of the conference room.
Minutes after the incident, Baghel’s supporters gathered outside the collectorate demanding action against the MP. Police even had to lock Tripathi in a room after Baghel’s supported tried to force their way into the district office and were eventually pushed out by police using batons.
Baghel’s supporters were still protesting outside the collectorate late Wednesday, many demanding “revenge”, even as police managed to escort Tripathi out. Raveesh Gupta, District Magistrate, Sant Kabir Nagar, who was part of the meeting, told The Indian Express, “The dispute between the MP and MLA erupted during a meeting on names on the foundation stone for some development projects. The situation is under control now.” Superintendent of Police, Rakesh Tomar said, “While no complaint has been received, we are conducting an inquiry into the incident and action will be taken against anyone found guilty.”
BJP state president Mahendra Nath Pandey called the entire incident “ashobhaaniya” (improper) and “atyant Amariyadit” (extremely undignified) and said Tripathi and Baghel have been summoned to Lucknow.
While Baghel could not be contacted for comment, Tripathi said: “I regret the incident and feel bad about it. What happened was against my normal behaviour. If I am summoned by the state chief then I will put my point across.”
In the videos, Tripathi is heard arguing with Baghel that his name was missing from foundation stones of development projects in Menhdawal, which is Baghel’s constituency. When Tripathi questions Public Works Department engineers at the meeting over the issue, Baghel interrupts and says, “Ask me about this, I have put in the stones.”
As the argument continues, Baghel threatens Tripathi and says, “Juta nikalen? (should I take out my shoes)”, when Tripathi removes his own shoe and repeatedly assaults Baghel, who in turn defends himself and uses his fists.
Tripathi and Singh are both first-time elected representatives. Baghel, whose constituency adjoins Gorakhpur, is a product of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, an outfit started by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Sources in Sant Kabir Nagar said his vehicle still flies the flag of the Hindu Yuva Vahini.
Tripathi, is from an old BJP family in UP. His father Rama Pati Ram Tripathi has held several party posts and was head of the state BJP unit from 2007 to 2010.