On video, BJP MP hits legislator with shoe after spat over name on plaque
An angry argument between two BJP lawmakers over the name on the plaque for a local project escalated into a fist fight in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday, all of it captured on a video recorded on a mobile phone. The widely-circulated video, which has provoked taunts from Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav, comes as a huge embarrassment to the ruling BJP that has summoned the two lawmakers to Lucknow.
The meeting had been convened by the Sant Kabir Nagar district planning board to discuss some projects at the district headquarters.
In the video, BJP Lok Sabha MP Sharad Tripathi and state legislator Rakesh Singh Baghel are initially seen squabbling over the plaque at the meeting also attended by UP Ashutosh Tandon. Somewhere down the line, Tripathi, the Lok Sabha MP from Sant Kabir Nagar, suddenly reaches for his shoe, stands up and starts hitting Baghel on his head.
Watch: BJP MLA, MP come to blows during a meeting in UP
Initially, many of those present appear to be too stunned to react but were able to get Tripathi to back off. By then, he had already hit Baghel with his shoe seven times.
Baghel represents Menhdawal assembly seat, one of the five that constitute the Lok Sabha constituency in eastern UP. All five assembly seats went to the BJP in the 2017 assembly elections.
Baghel, who had recovered from the shock over the next few seconds, then attempts to give it back and lands a few slaps on the Lok Sabha MP.
In between, UP minister Ashutosh Tandon, who is also BJP in-charge of Sant Kabir Nagar, unsuccessfully tried to pacify the two leaders. But it was only after a police officer intervened that they succeeded to break up the fight.
As videos of the brawl reached social media within hours, SP’s Akhilesh Yadav took a sharp jab at the BJP, which he said, often describes itself as the most disciplined party. “This reflects the frustration within the BJP which is staring a defeat in the general elections,” he said.
This was the second incident of assault at a meeting of the district planning board that emerged during the day.
Nearly 40 km away, supporters of BJP MLA Anil Singh were alleged to have assaulted Unnao district social welfare officer Alakh Narayan Mishra during a meeting yesterday. The video of the assault emerged today. Sources said the officer was kicked and punched by the supporters.
Senior UP BJP leaders initially refused to comment on the Sant Kabir Nagar incident.
But after supporters of the MLA Rakesh Singh Baghel reached the district headquarters to demand the party MP’s arrest, state BJP president Mahendra Nath Pandey promised “strict disciplinary action” against the lawmakers.
That promise of action did not satisfy the MLA Baghel’s supporters, who wanted the MP to be settle scores on their own, and stayed put. A police officer in the eastern UP district said they had a tough time controlling the 2,000-odd supporters who had gathered but eventually managed to escort the Lok Sabha MP out of the office.
Police eventually had to use mild force to disperse the angry supporters of the MLA who staged a sit in at collectorate campus. Asked, district magistrate Raveesh Gupta said: “MP Sharad Tripathi has been taken out from the collectorate campus and further action will be taken after investigation.”