Just hours before voting in the second phase of Gujarat assembly polls on Monday, sitting Congress MLA Kanti Kharadi from Scheduled Tribes reserved Danta seat in Banaskantha district in North Gujarat has claimed that he was assaulted by the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Ladhu Parghi.
"I was going to my voters. BJP candidate Ladhu Parghi along with L K Barad and his brother Vadan ji were amongst those who attacked us. They were carrying weapons with them and attacked me with swords," Kanti Kharadi said while talking to ANI.
He further said, "Our vehicles were going through Bamodara four-way, then the BJP candidate blocked our way after that we decided to return, then more people came and attacked us on that side."
"Whatever happened is unfortunate. I was going to my area as there's an election. I saw that the atmosphere was heated there so I decided to escape," he said.
"While our car was returning, some cars chased us. BJP candidate (from Danta constituency) Latu Parghi and two others came with weapons, with swords. We thought we must escape, we ran for 10-15 km and for two hours we were in the jungle," the Congress candidate said.
Posting a tweet, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi alleged, 'Congress tribal leader and Danta Assembly candidate, Kantibhai Kharadi was brutally attacked by BJP goons and is now missing.'
Danta is a seat reserved for Scheduled Tribe communities and Kharadi from Congress and Ladhubhai Parghi from BJP are in the fray for the seat.
Kanti Kharadi said that he had saved his life from 'BJP goon' by running about 15 km in the dark of the night.
Accusing the Election Commission officers of not taking his letter seriously regarding the apprehension of the attack, Kharadi said, 'I had written a letter four days back but no action has been taken. If the Commission had taken action, this attack would not have happened.'
Kharadi who is a Congress MLA for the last 10 years, said that the BJP candidate had also warned him earlier that party leaders should not come to campaign in the area.
"They did so because a large number of people gathered in Danta in support of the Congress," he asserted.
However, further investigation is underway.
Earlier, Congress working president and in-charge of Banaskantha district for the party Jignesh Mevani also alleged that Kharadi was attacked by BJP goons fearing the party's defeat.
'Congress candidate Kantibhai Kharadi from Danta constituency in Banaskantha has been attacked by the goons of BJP -a night before polling fearing their defeat. Is this how free and fair elections would be conducted,' Mevani wrote in a tweet.
'Attack on Congress MLA from Danta constituency Kantibhai Kharadi by BJP candidate and his goons. An attempt was made to kill him while intercepting his four-wheeler. The vehicle has turned turtle. Still, Kantibhai Kharadi is missing,' he further said.
Mevani also shared the letter by Kanta Kharadi written to the Election Commission regarding the apprehension of the attack.