On the first day of his three-day road show in Haryana, Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal was attacked on Friday by a youth at Loharu Chowk, outside Dadri, when he stopped to meet some supporters.
The attack took place in the Bhiwani constituency, where Haryana Minister Kiran Chaudhary was also attacked on March 19 while campaigning for her daughter and Congress candidate Shruti Chaudhary at Narnaul.
Eyewitnesses said Jitender Sangwan, now arrested by the Bhiwani police, and three others were watching the road show when he got up and hit Mr. Kejriwal on the neck. He was caught by AAP supporters who began thrashing him. But Mr. Kejriwal intervened and asked them “not to follow the example of the opposition and release the attacker.”
Senior Superintendent of Police Satinder Gupta told The Hindu that the youth, hailing from the Tosham sub-division in Bhiwani district, is a law graduate who appeared to be under the influence of liquor. Initial interrogation revealed that the attacker was possibly upset at “the hijacking of Anna Hazare’s andolan by Mr. Kejriwal.”
AAP worker Anupam, who was part of the road show, said: “It was a small incident, and we have not allowed it to interrupt our road show, which has evoked a huge response. We are running five hours behind schedule because of the numerous stops on the way.”
Within minutes, Mr. Kejriwal urged his supporters through Twitter not to respond violently. “If you are part of this movement — kasam khao kabhi haath nahi uthaoge, chahe kitna bada hamla kyon na ho [promise that you will not retaliate, no matter how big the attack is].”
“Someone hit me hard on my neck just now. This kind of violent reaction is expected of them. It only shows their true character and desperation.”
“If we ever become violent, the movement wud be finished. So pl pl pl, in future if anyone hits us including me, we shud be nice to him.”
AAP spokesperson Rajeev Godara said, “This attack is not an expression of opposition to the AAP. This appears to be a mischievous act designed to insult and sully Mr. Kejriwal’s honour. Sure, there is anger in Haryana at the lack of governance and inadequate livelihoods, but that anger is not coming out on the streets as yet.”
This is the fourth attack on a political leader in Haryana in recent weeks.
Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was attacked at public functions in Gohana and Dabwali in February. The attack on Ms. Chaudhary was more serious: she had to be admitted to hospital after miscreants threw stones at her at a public meeting at Narnaul. She has since blamed Dharambir Singh, BJP candidate from Bhiwani, for the incident.
The AAP has fielded candidates from all 10 seats in Haryana, which goes to the polls on April 10. Both Mr. Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav belong to Haryana.