NEW DELHI/ VIJAYAWADA: BJP national spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao was caught by surprise at the party headquarters on Thursday when a businessman hurled shoes which missed him narrowly in the middle of a press conference.
Shakti Bhargava, a businessman from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, flung the shoes when Rao was responding to the Congress’ criticism against the BJP fielding Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur as a candidate for the Lok Sabha elections from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.
While the press conference was underway, a BJP staffer got suspicious about Bhargava, who was sitting with media persons and sought his identity proof. When it became evident that Bhargava wasn’t a journalist, he was asked to leave the venue, which apparently angered him.
As he was being nudged to leave the venue, the businessman, who is said to be mentally unstable, hurled shoes at Rao. BJP national general secretary Bhupendra Yadav was also on the podium.
An unfazed Rao continued with the presser, saying he wouldn’t be deterred by criminal acts of a person inspired by the Congress.
Reports suggested that Bhargav faced Income Tax raids last year for possessing unaccounted wealth. He is said to be a critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Later, the man was let off by the Delhi police after a joint interrogation with the Intelligence Bureau. Police said nothing incriminating was found with him.
“No complaint was received against him. His motive was to gain media attention,” the police said.
It is not the first of such incident in Delhi. Jarnail Singh, a journalist, had hurled shoes at former finance minister P Chidambaram at the Congress headquarters during a presser in the run up to the 2014 general elections. Singh joined the AAP and went on to win the Delhi Assembly elections in 2015.
Strongly condemning the incident, party’s State unit has demanded that a probe be ordered to identify the people behind the attack.
BJP State president Kanna Lakshminarayana alleged that it was a Congress-incited attack. While the reason behind the attack is yet to be ascertained, the BJP Andhra Pradesh leaders took strong exception to it. Lakshinarayana tweeted, “This is incited by the Congress, which is unable to see the developmental policies of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”BJP State vice-president S Vishnu Vardhan Reddy demanded an inquiry into the attack. “We condemn the politically-motivated attack to create a disturbance in the party,” he said.