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Cong MP ‘guns for’ toll staff

Ahmedabad, Oct. 12: The Congress MP from Porbandar has been caught on camera brandishing his gun at a highway toll attendant after an altercation over the leader’s identity papers.

Vitthal Radadiya will be arrested soon, police said, based on a complaint that accuses him of threatening attendants at the tollgate near Vadodara’s Karjan on Tuesday night and creating a ruckus that triggered snarls. The complaint has been filed by the private agency in charge of collecting the levy.

DSP Usha Rada said an FIR was registered today under the arms act and the IPC sections related to rioting. Radadiya, a popular farm leader known for his aggressive ways, said he “lost his cool” after the attendant suggested he was a “fake” MP.

The Congress central leadership termed the incident “extremely disturbing”. “Images being shown on TV are disturbing undoubtedly. There is no running away from it. We have asked the Gujarat PCC to send us a report. (But) we are a little cautious before we pronounce a judgement. The process of natural justice does entail us to give him (Radadiya) a chance to explain,” party spokesperson Manish Tewari said in Delhi.

But state Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia appeared to defend the MP, saying although the incident was “unfortunate, it is a fact that toll booths hired musclemen who often insult vehicle owners”.

Congress legislature party leader Shaktisinh Gohil steered clear of the controversy, which came in the middle of the campaign for the December state polls. “I have not spoken to the MP and I have no idea why he did it,” Gohil said.

Jai Narayan Vyas, a senior state leader of the ruling BJP, said the MP’s behaviour had “shown us the true face of the Congress”. “The law will take its own course.”

According to Radadiya, he furnished a photocopy of his ID card at the toll booth to claim a waiver meant for MPs and MLAs but the attendant insisted on the original and said the document could be “fake”.

The MP was travelling with his personal assistant and driver that night. Radadiya first sent his driver with the photocopy and when it was rejected, the leader himself stepped out of the car and got into a heated argument with the attendant. A while later, he went back to his car and whipped out the gun, DSP Rada said based on the complaint.

The 12-bore gun belongs to the MP and he said he always carried it for security.