Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar was on Thursday slapped by a youth at a public function claiming he was angry with corruption and price rise.
Seventy-one-year-old Pawar, who went to a literary function at a public auditorium on Parliament Street, was slapped by Harvinder Singh, a transporter in his thirties who had assaulted former Telecom Minister Sukhram outside Rohini Court on Saturday after he was sentenced in a corruption case.
Pawar lost his balance but remained unperturbed after the assault and moved towards the exit of the auditorium and got into his waiting car.
Private security guards immediately overpowered the youth who was shouting "he is corrupt" and an official landed some blows on Singh.
"I came planned to the event to slap the minister," Singh told reporters who had gone to cover the literary function. "All of them are corrupt," he shouted when he was removed by security and policemen.
Wielding a small kirpan, the youth said things could have been worse but for the observance of martyrdom day of Guru Tegh Bahadur on Thursday. Later, Pawar reacted to the incident calling it stupid and that he did not make much out of it.
When asked whether he would press charges against the attacker, he said it was for police to deal with the matter. Pawar said he saw the youth standing in the midst of a group of journalists and could have taken advantage of the fact that he has very little security.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Pawar after the incident and condemned the attack.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee also said that the attack on Pawar was "totally condemnable".
Political parties condemned the attack on Pawar saying it was not acceptable in a democracy. Opposition parties, however, felt that government should be serious about tackling corruption and price rise which are of concern to people.
But Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party statement on Tuesday that continued price rise in the "absence" of any concrete steps may become a reason for the people to vent their anger in the form of violence.
"The BJP has given a statement. This statement is responsible for Thursday's incident," he told reporters.
BJP spokesman Ravishankar Prasad condemned the attack and said the attacker should be punished. He also said the government has not been doing nothing on the price situation and the price of gas, petroleum, food and vegetables has been going up.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav also spoke out against violence and said the attacker should be punished. The government also should take the price situation seriously, he said.
Pawar termed the incident stupid and that he did not make much out of it. When asked whether he would press charges against the attacker, he said it was for police to deal with the matter.
Pawar said he saw the youth standing in the midst of a group of journalists and could have taken advantage of the fact that he has very little security.
His daughter and NCP MP Supriya Sule said she does not want to blame anybody and asked her party workers to "forget and move ahead".
She said police will handle the matter and party activists should not react in any manner. Leaders cutting across political lines condemned the attack saying it cannot be tolerated in a democracy.