Arvind Kejriwal, a key member of Anna Hazare's India Against Corruption (IAC), was attacked with a shoe at a public meeting in Lucknow on Tuesday.
The attacker, who claimed to be a Congress Sewa Dal worker, took off his shoe and hit Kejriwal twice when he was getting on stage at Jhulelal park here as part of IAC's 'Jan Yatra' campaign.
The Congress denied that the man, who identified himself as Jeetendra Pathak of Jalaun, was associated with any party organisation.
IAC members overpowered the man, who hit Kejriwal twice on the shoulder, and thrashed him up. The police rescued him.
Pathak said he beat up Kejriwal because he was "trying to hijack the anti-graft campaign". He said Kejriwal "should have waited for the winter session when the Central government had assured to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill".
"Team Anna is misleading the country over the issue of corruption," he said.
SP (Trans-Gomti) Nitin Tiwari said they had not received any complaint but had detained Pathak for interrogation. "We have not verified if he is worker of any political party," he said.
During questioning, Pathak claimed he was in charge of Jhansi region of Congress Sewa Dal from 2006 to 2009, Lucknow DIG D K Thakur said. Pathak said he supported Team Anna but decided to oppose them after Prashant Bhushan's statement demanding plebiscite in Kashmir, Thakur said.
Prahlad Dwivedi, Sewa Dal UP in-charge, said: "I don't know if he was part of the organisation in the past but I have the list of Sewa Dal members... no one by the name of Jeetendra Pathak in Jalaun. We have inquired from the district level and found that he was once the personal assistant of a BJP leader from Farrukhabad."
Sources said Pathak had been seen at the local Congress office in the past. UPCC spokesperson Subodh Srivastava countered, "Anyone can visit the party office, but he is not any active functionary."
Kejriwal did not mention the incident in his address. He said Jan Lokpal Bill was necessary to control corruption of Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, BJP and UP Congress. "If the Bill has to get passed, we need to mount pressure on Congress," he said.
"You all assure me to not vote for the Congress in the Assembly elections if the Central government does not pass the Jan Lokpal Bill in the upcoming winter session," he concluded.
Must Prepare For Bullets Now: Anna
Anna Hazare said the attack on Kejriwal was an attack on democracy. "It is a condemnable act. This is not an attack on Arvind, but an attack on democracy... During the freedom struggle, lakhs of people sacrificed their lives. Now we should prepare ourselves not only for chappals and lathis but even bullets," Hazare said.
He Would accompany Kejriwal to Lucknow to "awaken the people" as soon as he has regained health, Hazare said. The activist, who is on an indefinite maun vrat, wrote down his reaction, which was then read out by his aide Sanjay Pathade.
'Kejriwal attack against democracy'
The BJP on Tuesday termed the attack on Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal as "most unfortunate". "This attack is most unfortunate. Such acts are against the basic tenets of democracy. But who is behind this? Who all are angry with Kejriwal? All these things should be fully investigated. Ever since he has been raising his voice against corruption, some people have been antagonised," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told Media.
He said the antecedents of the attacker who had thrown a slipper at Kejriwal in a public programme in Lucknow should also be probed thoroughly.
The BJP also insisted that there has been a concerted attempt to tarnish the image of Team Anna.