SITAPUR: A shoe was today hurled at Rahul Gandhi by a man during his roadshow here, prompting the Congress vice president to blame the BJP and the RSS for the incident.
Hariom Mishra (25), the man who hurled the shoe at Rahul, was immediately overpowered by the police and taken into custody for questioning even as the "missile" missed the Gandhi scion narrowly, the police said.
Rahul targeted the BJP and its ideological mentor RSS for the incident and said he was "not afraid" of such things.
"Anger of the BJP-RSS is their weakness. I was just travelling on a bus and a shoe was thrown at me. It did not hit me. I want to tell the BJP and the RSS that you can throw as many shoes at me (as you want) but I am not backing down. I am not scared of you. I will continue to believe in love and harmony and you can stick to hate," he said.
Rahul was riding in an open-top vehicle through Sitapur town, around 85 km from Lucknow, when the shoe came flying at him.
Mishra, who claimed to be a journalist, said he was angry over Rahul taking part in a roadshow, instead of paying tributes to the Uri martyrs.
Maintaining that he had no regrets for his act, Mishra said Rahul was today showing concern for the people when he could have worked for ameliorating their lot when his party was in power.
According to an eyewitness, Mishra, a resident of Shastri Nagar locality, was heard saying, "The roadshow is useless."
He had hurled his shoe from a distance at Rahul at Transport Crossing, from where the roadshow started.
"The Congress has left the country down in the dumps in the last 60 years. I have been a journalist for two years and I know. What were they doing when they were in power?" he said, while being whisked away in a police van.
One of the most protected politicians in the country, the attack on Rahul was seen as a breach in the security, though "shoe missiles" are increasingly becoming an "occupational hazard" for politicians.
An unfazed Rahul, an SPG protectee, continued with the roadshow and held the BJP and the RSS responsible for the incident, the first-of-its-kind during his ongoing 'Deoria to Dilli Kisan Yatra'.
Commenting on the incident, senior Congress leader Sanjay Sinh said the party which "feared the Congress the most" must be behind it.
"People will give what they have...those who have shoes will give shoes and those who have good words will give them...there are three parties which are extremely worried by our yatra," he said.
Rahul (45) is on a month-long 'kisan yatra', his farmers' outreach programme in Uttar Pradesh where Assembly elections are due early next year. The Congress vice president has completed over 2,200 km and has around two more weeks to go before he concludes the yatra in Delhi.