In what the Aam Aadmi Party called a serious security breach, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was slapped by a 29-year-old scrap dealer during a roadshow in Delhi on Saturday evening. The accused, Suresh Chauhan Gadiyalohar, climbed on to the bonnet of an open-air vehicle that Kejriwal was in, and slapped him across the face, before being pulled down by the crowd.
“The incident took place around 6 pm in Karampura (New Delhi). Preliminary interrogation has revealed that Suresh has been a supporter of AAP and used to organise the party’s rallies and meetings,” claimed a Delhi Police spokesperson. However, both the man’s family and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia denied Suresh had AAP links.
No FIR has been filed, but a senior police officer said “legal action in the matter will be taken”. The Delhi Police spokesperson said “an enquiry by a DCP-level officer has been ordered to ascertain to how this person was allowed to be in the reception/proximate group”.
Police claimed that during interrogation, Suresh said he got “disenchanted” with AAP “due the behaviour of its leaders, and distrust of the party in the armed forces”.
However, his brother-in-law told The Sunday Express he had no political affiliation. Sisodia said that “even if the Delhi Police says the man is an AAP supporter, why was someone allowed to get so close to the CM’s motorcade?”
“Police have deliberately lowered the guard when it comes to the CM. In any case, the accused’s wife has said that he’s a Narendra Modi supporter. I have never met this man or been in touch with him in the past,” Sisodia said.
Sisodia also took to Twitter minutes after the incident, saying, “Do (Narendra) Modi and Amit Shah now want to get Kejriwal killed? They couldn’t beat him for five years… now they want to remove him from the way in this manner.”
AAP leader Sanjay Singh said “the Delhi CM’s security comes under the Modi government, but Kejriwal’s life is most unsafe”, while AAP’s South Delhi candidate Raghav Chadha said, “Responsibility for today’s attack lies squarely with Modi-Shah and the complicit Delhi Police.”
The Delhi Police comes under the Union Home Ministry and the AAP has been demanding that it instead report to the Delhi government.
The Chief Minister was at the road show to extend support to Brijesh Goyal, AAP’s New Delhi candidate, who is up against the BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi and the Congress’s Ajay Maken.
Leaders from several parties condemned the attack on Kejriwal, including Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu, who said that “the Delhi Police must take responsibility for this heinous act”. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee tweeted: “Maligning and attacking Opposition leaders shows that the BJP has lost the election and are making desperate attempts… We are all with you, Arvind.”
But leader of opposition in the Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta and Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari suggested the incident had been “scripted”. “We as a party might differ from Kejriwal on several things but the attack on him is totally unjustified. But how does AAP come to the conclusion within minutes that the attack is by the BJP? This leads to doubt in my mind that they themselves design such attacks,” Gupta said.
Tiwari said, “We condemn this, but at the same time, we have noticed that the AAP has changed their campaign posters from ‘statehood’ to ‘they are not letting us work’. Since their ad campaign has changed, I wonder if the slap too has been scripted by them.”
This is not the first attack on Kejriwal. In November last year, a man had thrown chilli powder at him inside the Delhi Secretariat.