Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has alleged that the chilli powder attack on him at the state secretariat yesterday was an attempt on his life as part of a "larger conspiracy by powerful people".
"I have been attacked four times in two years, and it's no minor issue. These attacks aren't taking place, they're being ordered because we have become an obstacle and they want me to die," Mr Kejriwal said today. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had earlier accused the top BJP leadership of planning the attack.
The Chief Minister was attacked by 40-year-old Anil Kumar Sharma while he was leaving his third-floor chamber in the Delhi Secretariat complex on Tuesday afternoon. The attacker initially pretended to fall at Mr Kejriwal's feet, then lunged unexpectedly and smeared chilli powder over his face. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said Mr Kejriwal escaped unharmed only because he was wearing glasses.
Mr Sharma's Facebook page identifies him as a BJP activist.
In his statement, Mr Kejriwal claimed he is being attacked at the behest of powerful people because they aren't able to do what the AAP government has managed in Delhi over the last three years. "People have started asking them that if we can waive electricity, then why can't they? People are questioning them on various things," he said.
The Chief Minister asserted that that he will not let such attacks faze him, because he has "dedicated his life" to India. "I want to tell the youth that AAP is not a party, it is the fight for Independence 2.0. These parties have destoyed the nation, and we have to fix it again," he said.
The attack on Mr Kejriwal led to yet another verbal altercation between the Delhi Police and the AAP government, with the law-enforcement agency saying that the attack could have been "unintentional" and the latter accusing it of "completely failing" to protect the Chief Minister. Mr Sharma was charged only by Tuesday night, around eight hours after the attack.
The party also rallied behind its leader on Wednesday afternoon, with nearly 800 activists attempting to take out a protest march to the BJP headquarters. Although the protesters were halted 150 metres from their destination by Delhi police personnel armed with water cannons and barricades, they forged ahead shouting slogans and hurling banners.
AAP leader Dilip Pandey, in his address to the protesters, said the attacks will only get worse as the 2019 elections near. "But the people of Delhi have to unite and tell them that such hooliganism is not going to work. We are not scared of anybody," he said.
Rohtas Bansal, general secretary of the AAP Traders' Wing, attributed the chilli powder assault on Mr Kejriwal to the "nervousness" of the BJP. "They are scared of defeat -- even the violence at Signature Bridge was an example of this. But the Delhi Police does not take any action against them," he said.
In the past, the 50-year-old Chief Minister has been attacked with ink and slippers, and slapped while campaigning for the elections.
(With inputs from Agencies)
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