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Shoegate: 5 times Indian politicians were at the receiving end

india Updated: Sep 26, 2016 18:31 IST
Zehra Kazmi
Zehra Kazmi
Hindustan Times
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A shoe was thrown at Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's during his Kisan Yatra in Lucknow todaty. (PTI)

Earlier today, an unsuspecting Rahul Gandhi became the target of a shoe attack during his road show in Uttar Pradesh.

Hari Om Misra, the man who threw the shoe, was angry with Gandhi for continuing to hold rallies rather than paying a tribute to the 18 soldiers who died in the Uri attack last week.

This is not the first time an Indian politician has faced the wrath of a protestor in the form a precisely-aimed shoe. In 2012, Gandhi had dodged a similar attempt at a rally in Uttarakhand.

Police arrest Hari Om Misra, the youth who hurled a shoe at Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi during his road show in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh. (PTI)

In India, throwing a shoe remains a tried and tested way to lodge a protest, along with burning effigies. Shoes, considered dirty, are the perfect weapon of choice to humiliate, or shame a high-ranking individual.

But shoe throwing incidents have been on a rise since the infamous 2008 incident when Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw one at then US president George Bush who was addressing a news conference in Baghdad. The shoe missed its mark, but became press fodder for weeks afterwards, and inspired many similar incidents.

Other international leaders who have the dubious distinction of being attacked with shoes at public meetings include Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, Wen Jaibao and Asif Ali Zardari.

Here are five times Indian politicians found themselves at the end of a shoe missile:

Manmohan Singh: In April 2009, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was addressing a rally in Ahmedabad. The shoe fell way outside the mark. The thrower, an engineering student, was detained by security but let off as Singh chose to pardon him. The student denied being affiliated to any political party and said he had done it only as a publicity stunt.

P Chidambaram: Journalist Jarnail Singh threw a shoe at the home minister in 2009, angered by CBI giving a clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, an accused in the 1984 Sikh riots. The journalist was detained but eventually let off.

L K Advani: 2009 seemed to be a year for shoe throwers. A former BJP office bearer hurled a wooden slipper, or ‘khadaun’ at LK Advani, the BJP’s leading prime ministerial candidate for the upcoming general elections that year. The man, identified as Pawas Agarwal, said Advani was a ‘fake Iron Man’ and did not deserve to be the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

Omar Abdullah: On August 15, 2010, then Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah was greeted by a flying shoe during the Independence Day ceremony. The aggressor was not a common youth, but a police constable, which gave rise to the fears of a security breach.

Arvind Kejriwal: On April 9, 2016, a political activist aimed his shoe at Arvind Kejriwal, who was in the middle of announcing round two of the odd-even scheme. Ved Prakash Sharma, the shoe thrower, was part of a breakaway faction of the Aam Aadmi Party and alleged that the odd-even scheme was part of a ‘CNG scam’ before he was whisked away. Kejriwal has a prior run-in with another shoe-thrower back in 2009, when he was a leader of the India Against Corruption movement.