Congress leader Hardik Patel was slapped while addressing his Jan Akrosh Sabha at Surendranagar in Gujarat on Friday.
In the video of the incident that has been accessed by Republic TV, the Patidar leader can be seen addressing the rally from on top of a stage, with other leaders seated behind him. As Hardik Patel was thanking the audience for coming to his rally and bestowing blessing upon him, a man walks up to him from his right with a paper in his hand, and attacked him before he had a chance to move away. While hitting Patel, the attacked also shouted a verbal attack which was partially caught on the mic.
(Screengrab just before the attack)
Following the attack, Hardik Patel's team has accused the BJP of wanting to cause him grievous harm and claimed that the attack was related to this. He has issued a statement saying that the attacker had pretended to be a member of Hardik's team and had stayed overnight at the rally's location, hence he wasn't stopped by the security personnel from invading the stage.
Hardik Patel had joined the Congress just weeks before the Lok Sabha polls began, finally putting the 3-year-long speculation over his political affiliation to rest. However, his own poll plans were scuppered after the Gujarat High Court refused to stay his conviction in a 2015 rioting case rendering him ineligible. He has subsequently been campaigning for his party, as he was doing at the rally where he was attacked.
The incident comes just weeks after a video of Patel being confronted by citizens over his choice of joining Congress surfaced. In the video, a group of people can be seen questioning him over his political decision and support to the 'Tukde Tukde gang'.
The attack on Hardik Patel follows BJP Rajya Sabha MP GVL Narasimha Rao having a shoe hurled at him while he addressed a news briefing at his party HQ in New Delhi on Thursday.
Watch the attack on Hardik Patel in the video above.