The Flying Shoe has not spared even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. On Sunday, with both Singh and his prime ministerial adversary, Lal Krishna Advani, addressing rallies in the city, Singh had one flung at him, just as Advani had faced at Katni in Madhya Pradesh last Thursday.
Policemen immediately surrounded the shoe-thrower, one Hitesh Chauhan, a computer engineering student at a Gandhinagar institute, and hauled him away.
This is the fourth such incident during the election campaign. Apart from Singh and Advani, Home minister P. Chidambaram and Congress MP Navin Jindal have also had shoes flung at them in past weeks.
Unperturbed, the 76-year-old Prime Minister continued with his speech, and later, like Chidambaram before him, said he had forgiven the shoe-thrower.
“Dr Singh said he had forgiven the youth,” said Shakti Sinh Gohil, Congress Opposition leader in the Gujarat assembly. “He told us not to initiate any action against him.”
Chauhan, 21, the shoe-thrower, currently in the Crime Branch’s custody, reportedly told the police
he had been irritated by
the prime minister’s statements.
“While listening to the speech where the PM was talking about what his government had done for the country, he lost his cool,” Abhay Chudasama, deputy commissioner of police (crime branch) told PTI. “He shouted ‘Jhoot bolna bandh karo’ (Stop lying) and took his shoe off.” Chudasama added that Chauhan had claimed his act was not preplanned.
Speaking in Hindi, Singh ridiculed the BJP’s promise in its campaign posters of providing a majboot, nirnaayak sarkar (strong, decisive government). “There is no evidence to back this claim by the BJP,” he said. “You know what they did when they were ruling. Merely using strong words does not make one strong and decisive.”
Listing the government’s achievements and condemning the BJP for its politics of hate, Singh also hit out at the Third Front. “This is a group of parties with no forward vision,” he said. “How can it lead the country?”
Speaking hours later, Advani touched on themes that have grown familiar throught the campaign. He rebutted terror related charges made against the BJP by the Congress.
“Much is made of the fact that Parliament was attacked during NDA rule,” he said. “But the fact is that our brave security personnel repulsed the attack. No one inside Parliament was harmed.”
Referring to Afzal Guru, convicted for his role in the Parliament attack and awaiting execution, he said: “Had his name been Anand Mohan, he would have been hanged long ago.”