Rahul Gandhi targeted the BJP and the RSS after he was attacked with a shoe during a roadshow in Uttar Pradesh on Monday. The shoe missed him narrowly but the attacker was arrested.
“I was just traveling on a bus and a shoe was thrown at me. It didn’t hit me. I want to tell the BJP and RSS that you can throw as many shoes at me but I am not backing down. I am not scared of you. I will continue believing in love and harmony and you can stick with hate,” the Congress leader said while addressing a gathering later.
The RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the ideological mentor of the BJP.
Mr Gandhi was riding in an open top vehicle through Sitapur town, around 85 km from Lucknow, when a shoe came flying at him. It hit the person behind him, which was former union minister Jitin Prasada.
One of the most protected politicians in India, Mr Gandhi was seen glancing at the shoe and then looking away after the object missed him.
Hari Om Mishra, the shoe thrower, claims to be a journalist. “The Congress has left the country in the dumps in the past 60 years. I have been a journalist for two years and I know…What were they doing when they were in power?” he said while being led away in a police van.
Mr Gandhi, 45, is on a month-long “kisan yatra”, his farmers’ outreach in the state where elections will be held early next year.
He has completed over 2,200 km and has around two more weeks to go, his aides say.
Shoe missiles are increasingly becoming an occupational hazard for politicians, but many questioned the attack on Mr Gandhi, given that his security detail includes the elite Special Protection Group, which guards prime ministers and former prime ministers.