Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje was unhurt after protesters threw stones at her bus in a town in Jodhpur district Saturday evening, prompting the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to blame the Congress party for the attack.
Raje, who is on a statewide tour called Gaurav Yatra, cancelled her night halt in Piparcity and returned to Jaipur by a special plane from Jodhpur but said she will not be deterred by the attack.
“This (stone pelting) has been done at the behest of a Congress leader. Let them understand that I will not be cowed down by such acts. I am ready to give my life for Rajasthan. This shows frustration of those who have not done any work for the development of the state. We will return to power,” she said. Raje didn’t name Congress leader Ashok Gehlot, but the young men who allegedly attacked Raje’s bus were shouting slogans for the former chief minister, people said.
Raje was speaking to a crowd from atop the bus designed to resemble a rath, at around 9.15 pm when a group of men threw stones. The men were chased by the police but they escaped in the commotion.
“A police videographer was present at the site and the culprits have been identified. Appropriate action will be taken soon,” said Raghavendra Suhasa, Jodhpur range deputy inspector general (DIG).
Rajasthan Congress vice-president and former MLA Heera Lal Bishnoi condemned the incident. “People are upset with BJP, but no one should resort to violence. I don’t think these people were from Congress party. Gehlot ji is a former chief minister, so his name is on everyone’s lips,” he said.
Rajasthan Congress spokesperson Archana Sharma could not be contacted for comments.
Raje, who is currently carrying out the Rajasthan Gaurav Yatra in Jodhpur division, faced protests at three locations on Saturday. Her poll yatra has had a bumpy ride in Jodhpur, regarded as Gehlot’s turf.
During the public meeting at Osian (Jodhpur district) on Friday afternoon, some people reportedly from the Rajput community shouted slogans against Raje before the police dispersed them. After the meeting, Raje left for Bawari village where she was to address a public meeting. About 5 km ahead of the venue, some people pelted stones at her cavalcade breaking window panes of health minister Kalicharan Saraf’s car. Later, some youth, who were upset that Raje did not visit their village, blocked a road and burnt tyres near Osian.
Earlier this month, the Gujjars and the Rajputs came together to protest Gaurav Yatra in the Bharatpur division, leading to its cancellation.
The Rajputs are demanding their inclusion in the other backward classes (OBC) for reservation in jobs and educational institutions. The Gaurav Yatra will resume in Jodhpur division from August 29.