Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had a narrow escape on Monday when the vehicle he was traveling in was attacked with stones and sticks by some men near Ludhiana in Punjab.
His Aam Aadmi Party pointed an accusing finger at the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal saying the attack was led by a political assistant of a SAD legislator.
Kejriwal, who ended his five-day tour of Punjab on Monday, tweeted that his car was attacked with batons and stones, shattering its windscreen.
Punjab Police officials said the Aam Aadmi Party leader, who enjoys Z-plus security cover, was safe and escorted from the spot under tight security.
Kejriwal, who was seated alongside the driver in an Innova multi-utility vehicle, was immediately shifted to another car and driven away.
"The attack lasted for 3-4 minutes. There were about 30-40 people who carried out the attack," a police official present at the spot told IANS.
"Badals and Congress nervous? They can't break my spirits," the Aam Aadmi Party leader added.
AAP leader Ashish Khetan called it a "well orchestrated attack" and said the "goons sent by the Badals attacked Kejriwal's car with stones and rods as the police stood by".
"The attackers came within an inch of grievously injuring Kejriwal. It was only by God's grace that he escaped unhurt," Khetan added.
The AAP put out a photograph showing the shattered windsreen and a visibly worried Punjab Police officer standing close by. The car appeared to be stranded on a rural road, with a police vehicle in front.
Kejriwal was on a five-day tour of Punjab, where the AAP has emerged as a major player. The Punjab assembly polls are scheduled for February next year.
Punjab AAP leaders blamed the ruling Akali Dal for the attack.
"The car of the Aam Aadmi Party's convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been attacked with stones and lathis by Akali activists led by Amandeep Singh Aulakh, political assistant of Dakha MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali, while the cavalcade was just leaving Whistling Woods Resorts on the Ferozepur Road, after a function organised by the industry and traders today (Monday)," AAP leader for Ludhiana zone C.M. Lakhanpal said in a statement.
"The windscreen of Kejriwal's car was completely damaged. He had a miraculous escape. The attackers continued the attack on the car for around 3-4 minutes in the presence of police till the AAP volunteers, part of the security team, foiled the attack," Lakhanpal said.
The AAP leadership blamed the Punjab Police for allowing the attackers to reach the security area, from where the cavalcade was to leave, "under a pre-hatched conspiracy".
"The involvement of the SAD MLA's PA was confirmed and the police allowed them to escape from the scene. No attacker was arrested on the spot, where a large police force was present," the AAP leader said, adding that the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine and the Congress were "completely frustrated due to public response to Kejriwal's visits in all parts of Punjab".
They said "the attack was pre-planned and the attackers had full information about the entry and exit points of the AAP leaders".
The AAP leadership pointed out that the BJP supporters held a protest at the venue while the Akali Dal workers attacked Kejriwal's motorcade.
"Such cowardly attacks cannot deter the Aam Aadmi Party from continuing its activities and programmes in Punjab, which are attracting overwhelming response from the people," Lakhanpal said.
Workers and supporters of the Akali Dal-BJP combine and the Congress held protests against Kejriwal during his visit.
During his earlier visit to Punjab last month, there was a security lapse as the Punjab government did not provide security to the Delhi chief minister while he was traveling back to Delhi.