Nine persons, reportedly Congress workers, were arrested on Monday for allegedly pelting stones on Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's vehicle in Madhya Pradesh's Sidhi district. No one was hurt in the incident on Sunday night near Churhat town, around 540 km from Bhopal, but a windowpane of the vehicle was damaged, police had said.
Churhat is the assembly constituency of Congress leader Ajay Singh, who is also the leader of Opposition in the assembly. The party has denied any role in the incident.
"Nine office-bearers of the Congress were arrested for hurling stones at Chouhan's vehicle," state Home Minister Bhupendra Singh told PTI.
It has been made on the basis of eyewitness accounts and more arrests cannot be ruled out, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said, adding that Chouhan's security had been ramped up.
District Superintendent of Police Tarun Nair identified the nine accused as Rambhilas Patel (52), Pankaj Singh Chauhan (32), Gaurav Singh Chauhan (21), Roshan Singh (18), Saurabh Dwivedi (19), Shivedra Singh (24), Saurabh Singh (21), Charan Singh (21) and Sanjay Singh (28). They were charged with rioting and on other counts.
Hitting out at the opposition party, the home minister alleged, "The Congress has started a new politics of violence. The Congress knows it cannot come to power in the state due to Chouhan. That is why, Congress leaders are hatching conspiracies to kill Chouhan."
Addresing a rally after the incident, Chouhan dared Ajay to come out in the open and fight with him. "I am physically weak but I won't be bogged down by your deeds. The people of the state are with me," the chief minister had said.
Ajay, however, had said no Congressman was involved in the incident, terming it a well-thought-out conspiracy to defame him and the people of Churhat.
State Congress spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta on Monday accused the BJP of running a smear campaign against the party, saying, "The home minister is accusing Congress leaders of hatching conspiracies to kill Chouhan. Why is he not asking the police to arrest such Congress leaders?"
"They are claiming the arrested accused are Congress office-bearers. The home minister, please give us details of the accused with their positions in the Congress," Gupta added.
The chief minister is touring the state as a part of his 'Jan Ashirwad Yatra'. The BJP is in power since 2003 and will be seeking a record fourth term in the assembly polls, due later this year.